Valverde shifts focus to Tour and Vuelta

Contrary to previous years, Spanish all-rounder Alejandro Valverde will not target the Spring...

Contrary to previous years, Spanish all-rounder Alejandro Valverde will not target the Spring Classics next season, but concentrate on the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España instead. At a meeting with students of the Murcia University in San Javier on Tuesday, the Caisse d'Epargne rider revealed that the second part of his 2008 season will be more important to him than the early one-day monuments like Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Flèche Wallonne, which he won in 2006.

"Even without knowing the route of the Vuelta a España, which will be revealed on December 5, I can already say that I will race the Spanish Grand Tour," Valverde told Cyclingnews. "Contrary to the last few seasons, I will concentrate on the second half of the season, which includes the Tour, the Beijing Olympics, the Worlds and the Vuelta. I want to change the way I dealt with the calendar up until now."

The Spaniard has been known for his tendency to race competitively as early in the season as the Mallorca Challenge in February, which he won twice. But in the light of his Grand Tour possibilities, the man also known as 'El Imbatido' will have to pick his peaks of form more carefully. "I want to start off [the season] much more relaxed, without pressure," he said. "I'll also participate in the Classics, but I'll deal with them differently."

Valverde was looking forward to fulfilling his Grand Tour hopes at both the Tour and the Vuelta. Although he missed the presentation of the Tour route in Paris last month, he has had time to look at the itinerary - and liked what he saw. "For me, it's better to first take on the Pyrenees, and the Alps afterwards. It's also a relief to know that there will be less time trialling kilometres. I like the climbs they have put in, and the overall route is good for me, I think. But hold your horses - you don't win the Tour on paper," he commented.

But the 27 year-old didn't want to get into any polemics as to the integration of the dreaded Angliru climb in the Vuelta a España, which has generated much discussion in Spain. "I don't argue about that," Valverde added. "The fans want the Angliru because it creates a great spectacle, and that's a priority in cycling to recover public interest."

Courtesy of Antonio J. Salmerón

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