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Valverde to lead Caisse d'Epargne

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne)

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) (Image credit: Isabelle Duchesne)

Caisse d'Epargne has confirmed it will rely on recently crowned Spanish champion Alejandro Valverde to lead the team to a possible victory in the Tour de France starting on July 5. Along with Valverde the team will bring the only former winner to the start this year's event Oscar Pereiro.

Valverde was sixth overall in last year's Tour, more than 11 minutes behind winner and fellow countryman Alberto Contador, who was then riding for Discovery Channel. The Astana rider was surprisingly nowhere to be seen at the recent Spanish championships, but last month claimed his second Grand Tour victory at the Giro d'Italia in Italy.

Valverde has shown that he is on form for the race after a dominant performance at the 60th Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, a race considered as a key indicator for Tour form. The Spaniard won the race by 39 seconds over the number one favourite for this year's Tour, Cadel Evans of Team Silence-Lotto. Valverde's win in the Spanish title over the weekend once again confirmed that he has prepared perfectly for the French race.

The rider said earlier this month that he feels he's ready to lead his squad at the Tour. "I think that I have now gained the necessary maturity for confronting a three-week race," he said. "I will race the Tour thinking of the podium, why not? But we also have to take into account some very important rivals."

Caisse d'Epargne's Tour roster is made up of seven Spanish riders, Alejandro Valverde, David Arroyo, José Vicente Garcia, Iván Gutiérrez, David López García, Oscar Pereiro, Luis León Sánchez. Two French riders, Nicolas Portal and Arnaud Coyot make up the rest of the team that will start in Brest.

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