Alejandro Valverde will put his focus on winning a Grand Tour in the next years. The Spaniard has made up his mind for next season's goals, and said he will hold off racing until the month of April in order to be ready for the Tour de France in July.
"I don't know if it's going to be the Vuelta, the Tour or the Giro, but I know I'm capable of winning one of them," Valverde told Spanish AS.com. Looking back on his season, the Caisse d'Epargne leader said that it was "probably his best season ever," pointing at his Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Clásica San Sebastián victories, his wins of stage races like the Dauphiné Libéré and the Vuelta a Murcia as well as his Grand Tour stage victories in the Tour de France (2) and the Vuelta a España (1).
Still, the 2008 ProTour winner and Spanish champion lacked the final touch to make it to the podium of these Grand Tours, where he wore the leader's jersey. Valverde finished 9th in the Tour, and 5th in his home country. "I had a bad day on the Tourmalet, and in the Vuelta an echelon in the stage to Suances cost me a lot. But during the 20 other days, I was on the same level than the best riders," he explained.
For 2009, his primary goal is the Tour de France, and he is willing to give up some hopes in the early Classics races for it. "My idea is to prepare myself especially [for this goal], and not to race before April," Valverde continued. "If I race, I cannot remain calm – I give everything. I would like to come to the start [of the Tour de France] in the same condition as the other contenders, with the same amount of pedalstrokes."
Valverde still needs to talk to his team manager Eusebio Unzué about his ideas, but the manager knows about his difficulty to combine his ambitions in both the one-day races and the Grand Tours. At the end of this year's Tour, Unzué commented to Cyclingnews, "I think that in order to be competitive for a Tour de France victory, Alejandro has to build up to July in a calmer manner. Certainly, you'd sacrifice a lot of other victory opportunities for that. It's very difficult to make that decision."