Valverde fears Schumacher and Bettini

Alejandro Valverde, who is part of the Spanish contingent in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said that...

Alejandro Valverde, who is part of the Spanish contingent in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said that apart from his team-mates, the biggest favourites for the victory in Saturday's road race were Germany's Stefan Schumacher and Italy's Paolo Bettini.

Speaking to velo101.com after his win in the Clasica San Sebastian last week-end, Valverde reckoned that his own team was one of the strongest in the line-up for the men's road race event. "Indeed, I think that our team will be one of the most dangerous," he said. "Alberto Contador has already won this year and he is capable of doing this in any race again. Carlos Sastre just won the Tour, and Oscar Freire and Samuel Sanchez also rode an excellent Tour. I think that all the five of us can hope for a medal in Beijing."

Still, some strong rivals exist. "Personally, I think that Stefan Schumacher is most dangerous, when you think of his state of form during the Tour. We also have to count on Paolo Bettini, the defending Olympic champion, and there will certainly be a lot of other well-prepared riders in the event."

Valverde arrived on Monday in Beijing, but has had a look at the 245km road race course profile around the Great Wall of China even before getting a feel for the real thing. "The course suits my abilities well. There are a first 80 flat kilometres to race before tackling a very difficult circuit for a total of seven laps, with 12 kilometres of climbing and another 12 of descending. Coming out of the Tour de France, "I don't risk lacking endurance. I think the parcours suits me well."

In any case, the Spaniard agreed with many riders when he said that, "I think we will see a very hard Olympics. The humidity, pollution and heat may cause dehydration, which could greatly influence how the race unfolds."

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