Fourth in Amstel Gold in 2014, second in 2013, a bronze medallist on the same finish in the World Championships in 2012 as well as third way back in 2008, Alejandro Valverde probably holds the modern-day record for near-misses on the race’s final ascent of the Cauberg without ever having won.
However, minutes away from lining up for another attempt to crack the one Ardennes Classic he has not won, the Spanish allrounder says he has not made the Dutch one-day race a particular goal, even though he has already taken two victories in Fleche Wallonne and two in Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
“All of these three are good for me and just winning one makes your entire week,” Valverde told Cyclingnews on Sunday morning, “I’ve never won Amstel but I’m not fussy about which!”
“My condition’s very good, what you need is luck. But bringing in that extra section before the finish after the top of the Cauberg like that isn’t so great for me. I prefer the old Amstel finish.”
“He’s in good shape and keen to make his mark,” Movistar sports director Jose Luis Arrieta added, “and he’s always been there or thereabouts on the Cauberg. More than bad luck, I’d say he’s either not been in the right place or lacked the teammate that could have guided him into a better position.”
This time round “on paper, [Movistar team-mate Giovanni] Visconti should be the rider to help him on the Cauberg, and Jose Herrada and Gorka Izaguirre should be up there in the finale to give him a hand too.
“That’s the idea though, though in a Classic, obviously you have to change your plans a lot. The important thing is he’s feeling in good shape and has good morale. In the Volta a Catalunya” - where Valverde took three stages, second overall and was arguably the strongest rider present, albeit with the bad luck of being caught behind by a crash and losing crucial time on gc on one climb - “he showed that he was in great shape and that’s what really matters here, too.”