Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears has announced that Alejandro Valverde has agreed to a contract with that will keep the ProTour winner with the team until 2010, and is set to ink the deal later today. This ends all speculation that the talented Spaniard will move to the T-mobile team. The rumors may have even been part of a campaign by Valverde's agent to get the rider a better contract. The rider's manager told Cyclingnewsearlier this week that the contract will be worth more than 9 million euros.
According to T-mobile's Bob Stapleton, the team did have some discussions with Valverde, but they were short lived. "Valverde came to us through a third party and we had the opportunity to meet shortly after one of our camps in Lanzarote. We had a direct discussion with him about our approach to cycling and the need to share our commitment to clean sport."
"I think we have learned after the last six months is that it is one thing to say something, but then the next logical step is to put it down in writing and make sure that we all understand each other. Different cultures, different languages. So we had a single meeting with him, his wife and his agent, who comes from the sport of football. We then had a follow-up conversation back in December, but never heard back from him after that."
"We viewed this as something that was in the rear view mirror… I was thus quite surprised when I saw reports in the Spanish press that we were supposed to be meeting with him in Madrid and there was all this intrigue. It was quite clear what happened…Alejandro or, most likely his agent, used that offer to negotiate a much better deal from his current employer. And apparently they were quite clever at it and, I guess, quite successful!"