The International Cycling Union (UCI) awarded Spaniard Alejandro Valverde the 2008 ProTour title yesterday. President of the UCI ProTour Council, Vittorio Adorni, made the presentation at Team Caisse d'Epargne headquarters in Paris, where the 28 year-old cyclist stated his intentions to "sacrifice all" for the 2009 Tour.
"Behind these trophies are Alejandro Valverde's talent, regularity and constancy as well as his Caisse d'Epargne teammates' devotion," said Eusebio Unzúe, general manager of Caisse d'Epargne. "These results are the fruit of our philosophy, which is to start in every race with the desire to win it."
Valverde claimed 13 wins this year, which included stage one and two days in the leader's maillot jaune the Tour de France. The Spanish team also took the ProTour's award for best team yesterday.
"There is no doubt this one is the best of my sporting career until now," said Valverde. "I showed that I am a very complete rider. This was not only is thanks to my victories in the races like the Dauphiné Libéré and the Clásica San Sebastián – which allowed me to win the classification of the UCI ProTour – but also thanks to my victory in a big Classics like Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Spanish championship and my stage victories in the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España.
"They are all important, but I think the one which is the more important for me is the first stage of the Tour de France, which gave me the yellow jersey. It was an objective and also a great emotion."
Valverde has aimed at the overall title of the Tour de France since 2006. This year he fell short of the objective due to a crash and a bad day on the way to stage 10's Hautacam.
"I paid the consequences of the crash that happened a few days before – that is life. You have to look ahead. ... I really believe the crash was the most important element and that explains why my legs hurt so much while climbing the Tourmalet. It was a stupid crash, but those are normally the he most harmful ones.
"In 2009, I would like to race less before the start of the Tour in Monaco and not start racing before the end of March in order to, at least one time, base my season on the Tour only. I am convinced that, if I am lucky, I can climb on the podium and, who knows, even win the Tour. I am ready to sacrifice all the other races in order to reach that goal, at least to try it one year."
The ProTour is a series of races throughout the year. There were 15 races this year, starting with the Tour Down Under and ending with the Tour de Pologne.