By Antonio J. Salmerón
Having won the Liège-Bastogne-Liège for the second time, and in such a dominating manner, is a more than ample reason for Spain's Alejandro Valverde to be happy. This weekend, at the Clásica Alcobendas, the 28 year-old Team Caisse d'Epargne racer noted that he spent the first half of his season at a little more relaxed pace than normal.
"I am very much satisfied with the results achieved and with the manner in which they have been, as well as how I have felt."
The Tour de France, the Olympic Games in Beijing, the World Championships and the Vuelta a España... Does it seem like too much? "I have already taken a break after contesting the April classics, and now I am ready to race the second half of the season with greater intensity... . I must be ambitious and take risks," he said to Cyclingnews.
Valverde will be a strong bet for a podium finish in the Tour de France when it concludes in Paris, but he is watching his potential rivals. "At the moment, I think that Cadel Evans, Carlos Sastre, Denis Menchov and Damiano Cunego have demonstrated that they are capable of fighting in the Tour at a very high level. It will be an open competition, with great rivals and a very demanding route, especially with its passage through the Alps."
He will participate in the Dauphiné Libéré from June 8 to 15, before arriving at the start of the Tour de France. Oscar Pereiro, Xabier Zandio, José Vicente Garcia and Luis León Sánchez will be with him to give him support in the French Grand Tour.