Valverde prepares for 2006 season

One of Spain's most successful riders, Illes Balears' Alejandro Valverde, is gearing up for the next season. Team director Eusebio Unzué revealed to Spanish media that the 2006 goals of the 25 year-old will be the Spring classics, as well as for the Tour de France. Meanwhile, he will probably not ride the Vuelta a España.

"Alejandro's preparation is scheduled to bring on these two peaks of form," Unzué said. "For the Vuelta, we'd need a third one, so he would be taking part only if he doesn't finish the Tour."

Valverde's start into the season will therefore be at a lesser speed. "This year, he spent a lot of energy very early and wasn't fresh anymore at the classics. Next season, we don't want him mingling in front at any of the races until Milano-Sanremo (at the end of March), which will be his first objective." From then on, until the end of April, Valverde will race six other classics. "It would be great if he could one of them," Unzué continued.

The Illes Balears rider is one of the greatest Grand Tour hopes of his nation, but the climber has participated in the Tour de France only once, winning the tenth stage to Courchevel in front of Lance Armstrong this year. "It would be easy to go on and on about Valverde winning the Tour - and it's not like I doubt the kid: I think he can achieve anything. But Alejandro has raced only half a Tour [he abandoned on stage 13 due to a knee problem - ed.], and there are riders like Basso, Vinokourov and Ullrich who have the advantage of experience. I can't put too much pressure on him," Unzué argued.

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1