Alejandro Valverde will lead the Movistar team at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana this week as he continues his return to racing after fracturing his kneecap and talus bone on stage 1 of the Tour de France last July.
Movistar won the Spanish race last year with Nairo Quintana but with the Colombian set to race in his home country at the Colombia Oro y Paz race, the leadership duty falls to Valverde.
The five-day event will be Valverde’s first stage race since crashing out of the Tour de France. He made his racing return last week at the recent four-day Mallorca Challenge, competing in three of the four events but missing the final sprinter-friendly Trofeo Palma.
Valverde’s first forays into racing went well, with third at the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana and fourth at the Trofeo Lloseta-Andratx. The 37-year-old veteran admitted to being somewhat nervous ahead of his return but said he felt good.
“At the beginning, there was uncertainty, and even a little bit of fear in the first moments,” Valverde told AS last week. “I’ve trained a lot and I feel good, but racing is different. I was a little bit nervous because you never know how you are going to be. But the day arrived and I felt good.”
It will be Valverde’s first appearance at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana since he won the event in 2007. The race returned to the calendar in 2016 after a seven-year absence. The Spaniard has chosen a heavy racing schedule as he tries to find his form following his long recovery. After Valencia, he will ride the Vuelta a Murcia, the Ruta del Sol and the Abu Dhabi Tour in late-February.
Joining Valverde on the start line in Valencia will be five of the riders who accompanied him in Mallorca: Andre Amador, Jose Joaquin Rojas, Jorge Arcas, Jaime Roson and Hector Carratero. Nuno Bico is the only rider not to have made his season debut, having kicked off his 2018 at the Tour Down Under earlier this month.
The Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana starts on Wednesday, January 31 in Oropesa del Mar with an opportunity for the sprinters. Stage 2 gives the climbers a chance to stretch their legs before a team time trial on stage 3. The penultimate stage is another climbing day before the sprint conclusion into Valencia on Sunday.
Movistar team for the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana: Alejandro Valverde, Nuno Bico, Andre Amador, Jose Joaquin Rojas, Jorge Arcas, Jaime Roson and Hector Carratero.
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