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Valverde plans pre-Tour racing

Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) leads

Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) leads (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Caisse d'Epargne is pinning its hopes for a Tour de France podium on 2008 UCI ProTour champion Alejandro Valverde, who plans to participate in high-quality competitions that will bring him fitness without arriving at the start of the French Grand Tour too tired.

My goal is to "help Valverde, who for me is the best rider in the World," promised teammate and former Tour de France winner Oscar Pereiro to Spanish newspaper As. Valverde will make his 2009 season debut at the Haut Var before returning to his home country of Spain to tackle the Clásica de Almeria. He has no plans to defend his title at the Vuelta a Murcia. Later, he will head to France for two classic races, the GP Cholet and Paris-Camembert, where he won in 2008. Next up will be the Criterium International.

In the spring, Valverde will race the Gran Premio de Estella and the Gran Premio de Amorebieta before tackling the trio of the Ardennes Classics including the Amstel Gold Race, in which he finished third in 2008, the La Flèche Wallonne and the Liège - Bastogne - Liège, which he won in 2006 and 2008.

Valverde's first objectives leading up to the Tour de France, due to their placement on the calendar, are the Volta a Catalunya, the Dauphiné Libéré and the Spanish National Championships.

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