Eighth in Paris, no specific targets in September
After finishing eighth in the Tour de France, Spain's Alejandro Valverde has two races that are definitely on his calendar for now: the Clásica San Sebastian and the Vuelta a España. But although he has won both in the past, the Movistar rider says he will not be doing either "with any kind of pressure to produce results."
"I will do them both like I did them in 2012" - where he took 26th in San Sebastian and second overall in the Vuelta - "simply going in there in good condition, but to see what I can do," Valverde told Cyclingnews as he waited outside the team hotel in Paris for for a taxi to take him to the airport.
"With what I've achieved so far this season, and what I've helped the team do in the Tour de France, I think I have done everything that has been asked of me. Now it's just going to be a case of seeing what more I can get, but without pressure."
"The Colombians [Rigoberto Uran and Sergio Henao - Sky], Joaquim [Rodriguez - Katusha] and Nibali (Astana) will be the main rivals. We'll have to see if [defending champion] Alberto [Contador - Saxo-Tinkoff] decides to come too."
Valverde even tried briefly to get in a breakaway on the Champs Elysées on Sunday, "although we pretty much knew it was mission impossible. It was a nice way to round off the race."
"In any case, we've really had a brilliant Tour, with Nairo [Quintana], the stage wins and so on. If I hadn't had that puncture on the day of the cross-winds, it might have been two of us on the final podium, but that's the way things work out at times in cycling."
The Vuelta a España, cycling's third grand tour, starts on August 24th in Galicia, with a 27 kilometre team time trial. The equivalent event was won by Movistar last year, with Alejandro Valverde moving briefly into the lead three stages later. Will iit be the same this time round?