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Valverde building for Ardennes Classics

With the northern Classics all but over after Sunday's Paris-Roubaix, riders' thoughts now turn to the Belgian Ardennes and next Sunday's Amstel Gold race in The Netherlands. This is followed three days later by the La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège on April 27. After placing second behind Damiano Cunego (Lampre) in the Klasika Primavera on Sunday, Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) appears to be showing some of the form which saw him place second in both Flèche and Liège last year.

Speaking at the finish of the Klasika Primavera in Amorebieta, northern Spain, Valverde said: "At less than 10 kilometres to the finish, in the climb to Muniketa, I found myself in the lead together with Cunego. The gap seemed sufficient to go together to the finish but at two kilometres from the line, the Italian refused to take over and remained in my wheel. As a consequence two riders came back from behind at 300 metres from the line: Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel) and Kjell Carlstrom (Liquigas) and there was no way for me in the sprint.

"I finished second, just like last year, but in 2007 the win went to my team-mate Joaquím Rodríguez," he added. "But we have to consider the positive aspect of the situation because my result today is proof that I have prepared myself well and that is an encouraging prospect for the Classics. On Tuesday I will take part in Paris-Camembert in France and after that I will come back in Spain to train for some days before flying to Belgium."