By Antonio J. Salmerón
Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde, who is training for the Dauphiné Libèré with the rest of his team-mates in the Pyrenees, denied any involvement in the Operación Puerto affair, and said that he fully expected to race in the Tour de France.
The 27 year-old Spaniard, who is considered one of the main favorites for the Tour, has been linked to Operación Puerto by some media after revelations that one of the blood bags confiscated by the Spanish Civil Guard from the clinic of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes in Madrid in 2006 supposedly had the name of 'Valv.-Piti'. Piti, according to some reports, is the name of Valverde's dog, although this has not been proven. Cyclingnews visited Valverde's house this week and did not find any dog named 'Piti'.
"I do not know who is behind of all of that. It is clear that they are trying to disturb me, but they are not going to get it", the Spanish Caisse d'Epargne leader commented on the subject. He added that, "I am in calm, and these disagreeable things are not being discussed among us; we are concentrated on our training here."
The Tour de France organisers asked teams earlier this year to remove any rider implicated in the scandal from the rosters of the Spring Classics, leading to speculation that these riders would be excluded from the Tour as well. Valverde was not among those left off the rosters, and indeed he placed second in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Valverde said that, "I think that the Tour is scared of a new scandal, but they can be in calm, because if someone like me admitted that he knew Eufemiano Fuentes during the time he was riding for the defunct Kelme team three years ago, this demonstrates that he does not have anything to hide."