Alejandro Valverde has described his overall victory at the Vuelta a Burgos on Sunday in Spain as an important step towards his next major goal: overall victory at the Vuelta a España.
"I had the necessary forces and motivation to [win the overall today]," said Valverde. "It is very important for me because the Vuelta a España will start in less than three weeks."
Valverde finished fourth on the final stage of Vuelta a Burgos and was able distance Tom Danielson with one kilometre remaining on the final climb to Laguna de Neila. Five seconds behind Danielson at the start of the stage, Valverde finished the five-stage race 0:12 ahead of the American, who slipped to third overall behind Xavier Tondo (Andalucía Cajasur).
"Because I was only 5 seconds behind in the general classification, I knew that today's stage was a great opportunity to win the final classification," said Valverde. "But I also knew that it would not be easy because our rivals would fight to the end."
Caisse d'Epargne had worked hard to control the final stage for Valverde to make his race-winning move. The former Spanish champion was quick to thank his teammates for their support throughout the race.
"Just as they do every time, my teammates did a fantastic job to make things easier for me," he said. "I must thank them because it was on the final climb that I had to make the difference."
Valverde said he will now aim to win his first Grand Tour at the Vuelta a España. In 2006 Valverde finished second behind Alexandre Vinokourov in the 2006 edition of the Vuelta a España, his highest finish at a Grand Tour.
"I will keep on working to arrive at one hundred percent of my condition in Assen on August 29," he said. "There I will try to claim my first victory in a three-week major Tour."
This year the Vuelta a España begins in Assen, The Netherlands. The race will commence with a 4.5 kilometre prologue at the Assen motorcycle grand prix circuit.
Valverde was unable to compete in this year's Tour de France after being sanctioned by the Italian Olympic Committee for alleged involvement in Operacion Puerto. Because the French tour crossed onto Italian soil during one stage, he was ineligible to compete.
The UCI has yet to extend the ban worldwide, and Valverde is free to race outside of Italy.