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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) savors his time in the golden jersey.
Preferred 2009 Dauphiné to Vuelta victory
Alejandro Valverde is looking forward to next year's racing as the first half of his 2010 schedule has been established with his Caisse d'Epargne team. Speaking to Spanish daily El Mundo, the 2009 winner of the Dauphiné Libéré and Vuelta a España confirmed that his programme will commence with the Tour Down Under in January and that he will once again participate in the Tour de France come July.
Valverde's races after the start of the ProTour series in Australia will be the Tour Méditerranéen, Tour du Haut-Var, Paris-Nice, the Vuelta a Catalunya and the Vuelta al País Vasco. His first peak of performance will be timed around the Ardennes Classics in Belgium and in the Netherlands in April, where the two-time Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner hopes for another victory.
Valverde wants to start the season strongly in order to be more competitive. "We'll see if I can be in better form at the Classics to continue fighting for a win," he said.
The time span between the Classics and the Tour de France remained undefined, although chances are very high Valverde will be present to defend his double Dauphiné Libéré crown in June. Together with his Vuelta victory, the French stage race is one of Valverde's dearest memories of the past year.
"They are two different memories. The stage up the Mont Ventoux left me ecstatic, because it was the perfect stage which gave me the overall win in the Dauphiné for the second consecutive year. In the Vuelta, I felt my joy increasing day by day until the final elation. But the most stellar moment was the Dauphiné," the Spaniard explained.
Taking the overall victory in the Vuelta has boosted Valverde's Grand Tour ambitions, but he did not deny that the Tour de France will still be harder to conquer, especially because of one ribval, fellow countryman Alberto Contador.
"You have to be realistic - it won't be easy to beat Alberto Contador," he said. "Nevertheless, in a 21-day race nothing is impossible."