Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde, who will become a dad to twins in the next few days, is looking forward to the 2008 season - especially the second part. As many top level cyclists will do, the Spaniard has also decided to shift his focus on the later months of the season as 2008 will again be an Olympic year with the Beijing Games looming on the horizon.
"In 2008, I will especially concentrate on the second part of the season, which will be indeed be very busy," Valverde said from his home in Murcia, Spain. "That doesn't mean that I will neglect the first part, because Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège are races that I like very much, but it is clear that if I want to be at the top before the Tour de France - my main goal of the season - the Olympic Games, the Vuelta and the Worlds, it will be necessary to reduce my spring programme. The public may ask: where is Valverde? But Valverde will be training and preparing himself to realise a great second part of the season, with the hope to be in the mix on those crucial days."
Looking back on this year, the 27 year-old was satisfied with his performances even though he did not score the same amount of victories as in previous years. "It's obvious that I didn't obtain the victories which the public and perhaps myself awaited from me," Valverde said about his 2007 season. "Of course I would have liked to win more, but this year I proved once again that I can be with the best riders during the greatest part of the season and that is also something very important."
His biggest disappointment was to lose out to Danilo Di Luca in the last edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège. "My best day was in April, the day of Liège-Bastogne-Liège," he explained about his 2007 peaks of form. "It was one of the main objectives of my season, after I already won it in 2006. This year I felt extremely well too, but Di Luca was the first to attack and then it was impossible to catch him."
But the month of July made it up to the Spaniard as he was able to finish the Tour de France for the first time in his career. "I left London with the desire of learning and I believe that after three weeks on the French roads, I actually learned a lot," Valverde said. "In 2008, the Pyrenees will precede the Alps, which should be better for me. I prefer that. The reduction of the number of kilometres in the time trials is also an advantage for me. It is obvious that everything will depend on the beginning of the season, but if all goes to plan, I hope to be able to do a great Tour de France. To win it will be very difficult, but I believe that finishing on the podium is feasible."
In the meantime, Valverde is looking forward to celebrating Christmas with his family and waiting for a very special present this year: "Indeed! These days - we do not know yet if it will be at the end of December or at the beginning of January - my wife Angela will give birth to twins. That will be a great joy, something very special. From then on I will be another man."