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Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
Tour de France next race for the two Spanish leaders
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) will not line up at the Spanish National Championships, which begin on Thursday in Salamanca. Valverde, who initially wanted to compete in both the time trial and the road race, finally decided to skip the event while Sanchez never planned to race it in the first place.
According to El Periódico, the Movistar leader "talked to Eusebio Unzué on Sunday evening. Considering that Valverde already rode 1,300 kilometres in the Tour de Suisse, and that his state of form was up to Tour de France level, the sports director thought that it was best to use this week to fine-tune his shape by training at home in Murcia."
The 32-year-old, who will be his team's top man at the Tour starting June 30 in Liège, was instrumental in Rui Costa's overall victory in Switzerland last week-end. By skipping the Nationals, Valverde will start the French Grand Tour with 36 days of competition in his legs.
Sanchez, who together with Valverde was named into the Spanish Olympic selection earlier this month, is sticking to his intital plan of not attending the National Championships. Euskaltel-Euskadi's sports director Gorka Gerrikagoitia confirmed to BiciCiclismo that "since the very beginning" of the season, Sanchez' race programme up to the Tour de France did not include the Salamancan event.
On Tuesday last week, after having completed the Critérium du Dauphiné, the Olympic champion retreated to a training camp in Sierra Nevada where he will stay until Saturday. His crash on the second day of the French stage race did not result in any serious injuries.
Sanchez, who won the mountains classification at the 2011 Tour, will thus have 31 days of competition in his legs at the start of this year's Tour.