Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was told he wouldn't race again this season after crashing out of the Tour de France, but the Spaniard's recovery has progressed quicker than expected and there's a chance he could return at the Tour de Guangxi in October.
The Spaniard fractured his kneecap and talus bone when he slid into the barriers on the opening time trial of the Tour, and he remained in Germany for a week to undergo surgery before returning home. For the past month and a half he has been on an intense physiotherapy and rehabilitation programme.
According to Spanish newspaper El Periódico, Valverde has this week been given the go-ahead to start riding his bike again, for the first time since the crash.
The paper reports that Valverde intends, in theory, to ride the Tour of Guangxi in China, the new race created by the UCI and Wanda Sports. The six-stage race takes place between October 19-24 and, coupled with the UCI Gala, brings the curtain down on the 2017 season.
Much will depend, of course, on how his left knee responds to the riding and the workload as Valverde steps up the intensity in his training.
Valverde was one of the standout riders in the first half of the 2017 season, with a wealth of success in stage races and one-day races alike. He won the overall titles at Ruta del Sol, Volta a Catalunya, and Vuelta al País Vasco, along with a fifth La Flèche Wallonne, and a fourth Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
He had planned to support Nairo Quintana at the Tour de France before chasing his own ambitions at the Vuelta a España, which started at the weekend, and going on to try to finally win the World Championships in Norway.