By Antonio J. Salmerón
On Wednesday morning, the winner of the Dauphiné Libéré, Alejandro Valverde was officially received by the regional government of Murcia. The 28 year-old Caisse d'Epargne rider talked about the next Tour de France, in which he will be one of the main candidates for the podium in Paris on July 27. "I will race the Tour thinking of the podium, why not? But we also have to take into account some very important rivals, such as the Italian Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Fondital), the Russian Denis Menchov (Rabobank), the Australian Cadel Evans (Silence-Lotto) and Carlos Sastre, Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel), as well as Andy and Fränk Schleck (CSC)," he commented.
Valverde also referred to his successful experience in the Dauphiné Libéré. "It is like the Tour de France, but a bit shorter, only one week. But the most important thing is that I felt very good and this made me very optimistic for the Tour de France. I think that I have now gained the necessary maturity for confronting a three-week race. Leipheimer will not be [in the Tour de France], but Cunego, Menchov, Evans will be... and young promising riders who will be fighting very hard," the Spaniard added.
Now, Valverde will continue training for the Tour as he always did. "To get to the Tour de France in the best possible shape, there is no mystery: one shouldn't increase, neither decrease training sessions. We have to bear in mind that the hardest thing in the Tour de France is the third week, and not to make mistakes."
Valverde will return to the Sierra Nevada mountains for preparing the Tour de France. "I trained there before competing the Dauphiné, and it was good for me," he concluded. On June 29, Valverde will take part in the National Road Championships, and after that, on July 2 or 3, he will take his flight to France.