Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) will return to racing, following a brief break after his Tour of Flanders debut, at this weekend’s Amstel Gold Race. Valverde will lead the Movistar team’s ambitions at the one-day race on Sunday.
Having tested out the cobbles a few times in recent years, primarily as preparation for the Tour de France, Valverde made his Tour of Flanders debut at the start of April and finished eighth. The world champion took a short break from racing after De Ronde as he prepared for the main goal of his spring, the Ardennes Classics.
Since his first Ardennes campaign in 2005, Valverde has won Liege-Bastogne-Liege four times and Fleche Wallonne on five occasions. The Amstel Gold Race is one that has eluded him so far in his career, however.
Valverde has finished on the podium three times in 10 appearances, once taking third and two times as a runner-up, but he has never been on the top step. On Sunday, Valverde will be looking to emulate the likes of Michal Kwiatkowski and Chantal Blaak, in the women’s race, as the last riders to win the Amstel Gold Race in the rainbow bands.
Since the organisers changed the route two years ago, Valverde’s best result was fifth place last season where he crossed the line in a group that finished 19 seconds behind the winner Michael Valgren.
The new course means that the Cauberg is no longer the decisive climb that it used to be. The final ascent now comes with just under 19 kilometres remaining, with the Geulhemmerberg and the Bemelerberg still to ride afterwards. Following the Bemelerberg, the riders have seven kilometres until the finish line in Valkenburg.
Movistar have designed the team around Valverde with Carlos Verona and Andrey Amador key supporters for the Spaniard. Klasika Primavera winner Carlos Betancur has also been named in the line-up, alongside Carlos Barbero, Jaime Castrillo and Imanol Erviti.
Movistar Team for the 2019 Amstel Gold Race: Alejandro Valverde, Imanol Erviti, Carlos Betancur, Jaime Castrillo, Carlos Verona, Andrey Amador, Carlos Barbero.