The world champion finished second overall at the recent UAE Tour and won the first mountain finish to Jebel Hafeet. However, he ended the race feeling unwell and, with the Tour of Flanders and the Giro d’Italia major goals in the coming months, he has opted to rest up and do a block of important training instead of racing.
With Tuscan local Daniele Bennati also out due to a recent illness and Mikel Landa still recovering from a fractured collarbone, Movistar will field a young team for Strade Bianche.
Richard Carapaz will make his European season debut after riding the Vuelta a San Juan and the Colombia 2.1 stage races in South America. Also in Movistar’s seven-rider roster are Nelson Oliveira, Jose Joaquin Rojas, Eduard Prades, Carlos Barbero, Carlos Betancur and Eduardo Sepulveda.
Valverde has never ridden the Tour of Flanders but has tested his ability on the Flemish cobbles and climbs at Dwars door Vlaanderen in the past, finishing 11th last year.
"It's time to prepare for the next races and one of the most important races for me is the Tour of Flanders," Valverde told Marca while in the UAE.
"I would love to win it, it's a beautiful race. I've always been excited about it but I thought it was out of my reach. I know it'll be very difficult to win it and especially at my age but I’m going to try. It's my penultimate great challenge, although it may be too late."
Valverde has set the 2020 Olympic road race in Tokyo as a final career goal.