A close-up look at the Australian's purpose-built ride
Australian's 2015 Tinkoff-Saxo team bike
Winner of the 2015 Tour Down Under
New and old kicks and lids seen at WorldTour race
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
First appearance since return from suspension
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) has confirmed that he will compete in this year’s Vuelta a España, which gets underway in Pamplona on August 18. The Spaniard has missed the last two editions of his home tour due to his suspension for his implication in the Operacion Puerto blood doping investigation.
Valverde returned to competitive action at the beginning of this season, and his stand-out result to date was victory on the final mountain stage of the Tour de France to Peyragudes, although he failed to make an impact on the general classification. He was also part of the Spanish team at the London 2012 Olympics and on returning home from the Games he decided to make himself available for selection for the Vuelta.
“I was thinking about it already in the last stages of the Tour, but we preferred to wait and see how my body would recover after those three weeks and the additional effort of London," Valverde said. "After the Olympics, I took a couple of days off the bike and then started training afterwards. I did soft rides to kick off and then some strength training, and I found myself going well.”
Valverde was the overall winner in his last Vuelta appearance in 2009 but he insisted that he harboured no ambitions of a podium finish this time around. Instead, he is slated to work for teammate Juan José Cobo, who won the race twelve months ago.
“My goals in the Vuelta will be fighting for stage wins, since some finishes suit me well, and helping out Juanjo Cobo, who will be our team leader,” Valverde said.
This year’s Vuelta takes place entirely in the northern half of the country and looks to set to benefit explosive climbers as it features no fewer than seven official summit finishes. “I know most of the route, but I had no time to recon some of the new stages, because I chose to rest in the few days I had after the Games were over," Valverde said.
The full Movistar line-up for the Vuelta is due to be announced on Monday.