Valverde: "I'm better than ever"

Caisse D'Epargne's Spanish ace, Alejandro Valverde has said at a recent reception in his local area of Murcia that he'll arrive at the Tour de France ready to do well, and that the ProTour leader's jersey he currently holds will be "just one more motivation".

Valverde will return to competition at the Dauphiné Libéré (June 4-11) before taking a crack at the Spanish national championships. According to Valverde, "This will be very good for me and, in this way, I can do the Tour relaxed and thinking about doing the things that count," he said.

On the other hand, Valverde admitted that, "I am one of the favourites and hope to be among the top six or seven riders on general [classification] and to to win a stage."

The 25-year-old said that, "I will need to complete the whole Tour, something that I hope to do this time, because I'm a little better that in 2005." For Valverde, "Ivan Basso is the main candidate to win the Tour, but there are others like Ullrich, Mancebo, Vinokourov, Popovych and myself who are also in the running."

Courtesy of Antonio J. Salmerón

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