Often counted among the biggest names in pro cycling, 2006 ProTour winner Alejandro Valverde has plenty of victories, but the 26 year-old admits he still has some learning to do before he will bank on winning the Tour de France. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes looks at his excellent 2006 season and what could be a very special year ahead.
Alejandro Valverde is on most lists of Tour de France contenders, but unlike most of his fellow stars, Valverde has already racked up more than one win this year - surprising even himself with stellar form. In an eight-day period in early March, Valverde closed out victory in the Tour of Valencia then won the time trial and the general classification in the Tour of Murcia. He had gone into both races aiming simply to build form, and so to come out on top over a month earlier than his stated first goal of Amstel Gold was way ahead of schedule.
Cyclingnews contacted Valverde recently, asking him if he was surprised how things had gone. "I think that after winning both Valencia and Murcia, I can say that my season has started very well," he replied. "But to tell you the truth, that is rather unexpected for me, because I started those races with the intention of testing myself, not to win.
"In Valencia I wanted to test my form in the first mountain stage of the year, and even though I did not win the stage [he was second behind Alberto Contador], I ended up first overall! The same happened in Murcia, I wanted to take part because it was important for my fellow citizens that I was there. I wanted to test myself in the time trial... and I won that, plus the race. So, yes, all of this is very positive."
For the full interview with Alejandro Valverde, click here.