By Antonio J. Salmerón
At the conclusion of each day, another count down begins, that is, the race to optimize the recovery of the leg muscles before the next big race. Luis León Sánchez and Alejandro Valverde were busy with their massage at the end of the Challenge of Mallorca, and the two friends, countrymen and training companions too, were proud of the team's success. "I said to Echavárri and Unzúe that Luis León Sánchez will give us many successes", Valverde said to his Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears teammate.
Sánchez may be the man of the moment, but come Tour de France time, he will take on a very important support role for Valverde, and the early season tests will help hone both riders' form for that day. "If I arrive in optimal conditions, I have no doubt in fighting to win the Tour de France", Valverde expressed to the daily news El Faro de Murcia.
In order to attain that lofty goal, the winner of last year's La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège will build his form gradually by "facing the April classical races, mainly the Amstel Gold Race". But, before that, the Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears rider will take part in the Vuelta a Murcia at the beginning of March.
The parcours in Murcia are well suited to early season training, according to the Spaniard. "Without a climb final stage, it is evident that the time-trial between Alhama and Aledo (fourth stage) will be decisive," he said. In the past, Valverde's time-trialing has proved to be his undoing in the major tours, but he's been working hard to improve his abilities. The Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears rider works with a prestigious Italian physiologist. "The main purpose is optimize in all areas", Valverde commented.
Valverde's next race will be the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana at the of February, where he'll once more team up with Luis Leon Sanchez in a support role. "So far my state of form is below normal since my objectives are fixed more long term, and so far, I will work for my teammates".