By Antonio J. Salmerón
Alejandro Valverde missed the presentation of the Tour de France 2008 route last Thursday morning in Paris but the perennial challenger for Cycling's grandest spectacle, who came sixth in the general classification in 2007, told Cyclingnews at the Memorial of León Sánchez in Mula (Murcia) that he has on briefly reviewed the parcours.
"The Tour in 2008 will be decided in the Alps since the layout (of the Alpine stages) is harder than in the Pyrenees, and, above all, due to the Alps will be faced later, during the last week," the Caisse d'Epargne rider said.
About the trimming of time trial kilometers from the overall make-up of the 2008 Tour, 27-year old Valverde said he is pleased. "Although I have improved my performance in this discipline, I still have to improve [more]."
Valverde said the Tour is his main goal for the season. "I have to work very hard, as always, for being as well as possible in the Tour, because all we know that the Tour is the most demanding race in the world," he said. "And I will be there with the same aspirations for success than ever and with more experience gained, and also thinking of (the Beijing Olympics)."
Valverde was accompained by Spanish national champion, Joaquím Rodríguez at the Memorial of León Sánchez. Rodríguez said he agrees with Valverde that climbing more than time-trialing will settle the 2008 Tour. "Before arriving to the penultimate time trial stage (53 kilometres) the general classification will be settled, so that it will only serve to the showcasing of the specialist riders."
Valverde said he would also like to race the Vuelta a España next season but has not confirmed his schedule for 2008.