The Italian one-day Classic is one race that has eluded the 39-year-old Spanish rider during his long career. He has twice finished second there – in 2013 behind compatriot Joaquim Rodriguez and in 2014, when he was beaten by Irishman Dan Martin – and will feel encouraged by his second place to EF Education First's Michael Woods at Milano-Torino on Wednesday.
"A fifth spot, two second places..." Valverde said on his Movistar team's website, referring to Milano-Torino and his second place at the GP Bruno Beghelli on Sunday, as well as fifth at the Giro dell'Emilia on Saturday. "It seems as though these tests before Lombardy are a good sign, and this result will help me reach a really good fitness level for Saturday.
"Lombardia is a race that's still missing from my palmarès," he said, "and we must take advantage from this form. Primož Roglič should be the man to beat there."
With his wins at both the Tre Valli Varesine and the Giro dell'Emilia in the past week, Jumbo-Visma's Roglič indeed appears to be one of the favourites for Il Lombardia, along with two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida).
"We weren't really very fortunate with that incident at Tre Valli," Valverde said. "Everyone just followed the [television] motorbike. I realised that it wasn't the right direction, but seeing that everyone else was going that way, I wasn't going to turn right and cause a crash.
"It was a completely different race today, with different weather," he said of Milano-Torino. "We spent the first 100km in cold, wet weather, and so my legs didn't feel particularly great; they were a bit swollen because of the humidity, yet we were able to keep the pace in the end.
"Hats off to Woods for his victory," Valverde said. "And thanks a lot to my teammates, for the great work they did at all times, keeping me covered before the last climb.
"I'd of course have liked to have finished this off and won, but we have to be happy with this second place. I may have lacked some confidence to follow Woods' acceleration into that move prior to the final straight, but I'm content with this podium," he said.
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