Compared to previous years Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) had a reduced programme this year. His next race will be the Vuelta a Castilla y León, which starts on Monday. Despite the lack of racing Valverde feels on track towards a successful Tour de France.
"As of now I only took part in two stages of the Challenge of Mallorca, the two stages of Tour of the Haut Var and the Clásica of Almería, but in spite of that I feel pretty well and I believe that my level is rather good."
He did admit that the upcoming race will be rather competitive and he will have to get used to the high race rhythm. "I don't believe I have to be afraid, but of course I have a lot of respect for those riders because I can see which level some of them have already reached and it is obvious that I am still behind that a little bit."
Valverde wants to further refine his time trialing abilities, which he will need if he wants to make the Tour de France podium. "I have shown last year, for example in the Dauphiné Libéré, that I am even able to win a 30-35-kilometre long time trial. On the other hand I still have to improve on the time trials that are longer than 50km."
Valverde won't be eyeing the overall, instead just trying to adapt to the race pace. "But if I feel well then why not try and win a stage?" Valverde said.
His main goal remains the Tour de France and he won't be changing his programme after Castilla y León. "I'll do the Grand Prix Miguel Indurain in Estella, the Clásica Primavera in Amorebieta, Paris-Camembert, the Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. After that, in May I will be in the Tour of Catalunya and in June in the Dauphiné Libéré before defending my title in the Road Spanish Championship."
Castilla y León will give him a first chance to meet Lance Armstrong in competition. "That's really great and I am delighted about that. It will be a very special moment. I also think that his presence in the race will attract many journalists to the event."