Alejandro Valverde (Spain) is a favourite to win the World Championship road race in Mendrisio, Switzerland today, despite facing a possible ban for his alleged involvement in the Operación Puerto doping case. The Spaniard said the same concentration that helped him win the Vuelta a España one week ago will carry him through today's 262.2 kilometre race.
"I am calm and I am racing for gold. I have already won silver and bronze," Valverde told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Valverde received a two-year ban from racing in Italy in May for his alleged connection to the 2006 doping investigation, Operación Puerto. The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) used DNA evidence to connect him to blood seized in the same investigation that led to Ivan Basso's worldwide two-year ban. Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) could enforce a worldwide ban for Valverde based on court hearings to be held later this year.
"It's difficult to stay concentrated and continue to do your job well," Valverde continued. "Luckily I have a lot of friends and people care around me. Besides, what would it change if I got upset and crazy about it all?"
Valverde proved recently at the Vuelta a España that he can concentrate on his job. He took control of the race on the mountain stage nine to Xorret del Catí and held the leader's jersey through the following 12 stages.
"I finished the Vuelta well, but not very well because I had to give it my all to win. But now I am even more faithful my abilities and I have a special motivation."
Valverde has finished on the Worlds podium three times: second in Hamilton (2002), second in Madrid (2005) and third in Salzburg (2006). He finished 36th in Varese last year, a course similar to Mendrisio's, but with less climbing.
Spain's Worlds team: Oscar Freire, Juan Manuel Gárate, Alejandro Valverde, Joaquím Rodríguez, Daniel Moreno, Samuel Sánchez, Juan José Cobo, Carlos Barredo and Rubén Plaza.
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