Valverde targeting stages and podium at Giro d'Italia

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) says that he is targeting stage wins and the podium at this month’s Giro d’Italia. After 14 years as a professional, Valverde is set to lead a team at the Giro for the first time in his career.

“A good result for me? Stepping onto the podium and having won one or more stages,” Valverde said in a video interview on the Movistar team’s website page. “We’ll give our very best, as well as myself and the whole Movistar team to make them happy. I’m so glad to be racing the Giro for the first time.”

Valverde goes into the race after a successful campaign at the Ardennes Classics with a record fourth Fleche Wallonne victory under his belt. However, he missed out at Liege-Bastogne-Liege when Michael Albasini escaped on the Cote de la Rue Naniot. He has also scored overall victories at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon and the Ruta del Sol. Valverde originally had the Flemish classics on his racing calendar but eschewed them in favour of a training camp.

“My approach to the Giro has been perfect. We’ve trained well, rode whatever we wanted to, even winning some big races,” said Valverde. “We chose to skip the Tour of Flanders in order to go training to Tenerife, but not Teide – we stayed by the coast in the south. To me, it was more important to get some hours of long climbing under my belt, rather than staying at altitude. I preferred to stay calm with my people, avoiding any pressure and doing some climbs with good temperatures.

“It seems like it’s gone well. We won Castilla y Leon, then we also won Fleche Wallonne, let’s see what happens next.”

Valverde will lead a Movistar team that includes former young rider classification victor Carlos Betancur and last year’s mountains classification winner Giovanni Visconti. Completing the line-up are Andre Amador, Rory Sutherland, Jasha Sutterlin, Javi Moreno, Jose Joaquin Rojas and Jose Herrada. “It’s going to be a strong team when it comes to individual quality. But moreover, I feel like we’ll all be peaking at this Giro. Plus it’s a balanced group,” explained Valverde.

“We’ve got specialist groups for the flat, good riders for mid-high mountains and we're extremely motivated. We’ve got to stay focused and always ride at the front. Plus, racing in the Netherlands means the roads will be narrow and twisty. I’m still calm, as I know I’ll have a great team around me. With their support, I know I won’t have any problems. There are some difficult finishes, like Roccaraso, and also the dirt roads on the Alpe di Poti, just one day before the time trial.”

There are only three high mountain stages, but the organisers have made up for it with the amount of climbing in each of them. Valverde has picked stage 14 to Corvara as one of the most challenging of the three weeks.

“It’s a hellish stage. In our recon, we had 5,350m of vertical gain, and once you reached the Pordoi summit at 2,300m above sea level, you go down to 1,800m, then 2,300, back to 1,800, then 2,200. We’re always in high altitude and considering it’s a 210km stage and 14 days into the race it might become an extremely demanding one.”

The Giro d’Italia kicks off on Friday with a time trial in Apeldoorn.

Movistar team for the Giro d’Italia: Alejandro Valverde, Giovanni Visconti, Andre Amador, Carlos Betancur, Rory Sutherland, Jasha Sutterlin, Javi Moreno, Jose Joaquin Rojas and Jose Herrada.

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