Valverde comeback confirmed for La Route d'Occitanie

World champion to race for first time since Liege

Alejandro Valverde will make his comeback this week at Route d’Occitanie after nearly two months away from racing, his Movistar team confirmed today.

The world champion crashed during a training ride in the build-up to Liège-Bastogne-Liège at the end of April and suffered a bone edema - a build-up of fluid in the bone marrow - in his sacrum.

He had been set to ride the Giro d’Italia in May but the injury forced him to change his calendar, and the Tour de France and Vuelta a España were added in.

The Tour begins in Brussels on July 6 and, having not ridden the Critérium du Dauphiné or Tour de Suisse, Valverde’s preparation will come at the Route d’Occitanie, the four-day race in the south of France starting on Thursday.

It’s a path that has worked for him in the past, as he won the race overall last year, winning the summit finish on Les Monts d’Olmes.

Movistar announced their seven-man squad on Tuesday and supporting Valverde will be José Joaquín Rojas, Rafael Valls, Antonio Pedrero, Jaime Castrillo, Jorge Arcas and Eduard Prades.

The four-day race includes two key mountain stages from a general classification perspective, with Saturday’s queen stage taking in three category-1 climbs in the Pyrenees: the Hourquette d’Ancizan, the Port de Bales, and the summit finish at Hospice de France. Thursday’s opening stage concludes with a double ascent of the category-2 Cote d’Aubignac, while stages 2 and 4 are likely to end in bunch sprints.

While Valverde heads to the Pyrenees for the race, his teammates and co-leaders for the Tour, Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa, are over in the Alps, getting to know the key mountain stages of the Tour de France’s final week.

They were photographed on Tuesday at the top of the Col du Galibier, the 2642-metre-high pass that precedes the descent into Valloire on stage 18. The following stage goes over the Col de l’Iseran at 2770m before the summit finish at the ski resort of Tignes, while the final key stage before the procession to Paris concludes with the 33km climb to the ski resort of Val Thorens.

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