Valverde confirmed as leading Movistar in Santos Tour Down Under
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Monday, January 02, 2012

Valverde confirmed as leading Movistar in Santos Tour Down Under

by VeloNation Press at 7:47 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under
 
Race organiser believes he can contend for overall victory

Alejandro ValverdeFollowing reports in recent days that Alejandro Valverde will make his competitive return in the Santos Tour Down Under, the race organisers have officially confirmed the Spaniard’s presence in the race.

The former Vuelta a España winner will head the Movistar team in the WorldTour event and will, according to race director Mike Turtur, be in contention for the title.

“I believe Valverde is one of the favourites for next year’s race,” he said, commenting on the Spanish team’s selection. “The experience he had here when he last raced in 2010 will have him well placed to be a big threat to take out the overall win,” said Mike Turtur.

The 31 year old Spaniard is both a solid sprinter and also a very explosive rider who thrives on uphill gallops to the line. Both characteristics will be important in the 2012 edition, which begins in just over two weeks’ time.

“The Old Willunga Hill and Stirling finishes suit Valverde’s style of racing so we expect him to ride well,” explained Turtur.

The rider is due to be presented to the media this week in Madrid, with both he and new signing Juan Jose Cobo unveiling the team’s jersey on Wednesday.

Valverde has been with that team’s structure for many years, racing under the Illes Balears colours and then Caisse d’Epargne. He won the 2009 Vuelta a España as part of the squad, plus overall UCI ProTour titles in 2006 and 2008, two editions of both Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Critérium de Dauphiné Libéré, plus Flèche Wallonne, the Clasica San Sebastián and the Volta a Catalunya.
His victories also included stages in the Tour de France and Vuelta a España. However his career was put on hold on May 31st 2010 when CAS sided with WADA and the UCI and gave him a lengthy ban for his part in Operación Puerto. He is eligible to return to competition on January 1st.

Valverde has trained hard during his sanction and is reported in good form. He is highly motivated to succeed and, as Turtur suggested, his previous participation in the race will give him an insight into what is required to win.

When he raced there in 2010, he was second on stage three to Stirling, third at Willunga and nineteenth overall. This year’s route arguably suits him better as the Willlunga stage finishes on top of the climb rather than after the descent, as was the case before.

He will be joined by six other Spaniards, namely Imanol Erviti, Jose Ivan Gutierrez, David Lopez, Angel Madrazo, Javier Moreno and Jose Joaquin Rojas. Turtur suggests that they too could figure.

“There are a lot of riders in this Movistar team who could potentially do well at our race this year,” he said. “Jose Joaquin Rojas was impressive here in 2009, winning the Cycle Instead Young Rider Jersey and finishing third in the GC. Rojas will certainly be one to watch in 2012 alongside Valverde.”

The latter was 14th overall last year, five months before becoming Spanish champion. Madrazo also took part and was tenth overall in the Cycle Instead Young Rider Classification, while Gutierrez was 17th overall.

Being a WorldTour event, the participation of the top teams is guaranteed, and several very successful riders are travelling as part of their lineup. It was confirmed earlier today that Gerald Ciolek (Omega Pharma Quick Step) would arrive in Australia tomorrow, getting there early in order to be able to prepare for the race, while Linus Gerdemann (RadioShack Nissan), Edvald Boasson Hagen and Alex Dowsett will arrive on Wednesday morning.

The racing begins on January 15th with the Down Under Classic. The start proper is two days later, and the event will continue until January 22nd.



Movistar for 2012 Santos Tour Down Under: Alejandro Valverde (ESP), Imanol Erviti (ESP), Jose Ivan Gutierrez (ESP), David Lopez (ESP), Angel Madrazo (ESP), Javier Moreno (ESP), Jose Joaquin Rojas (ESP).

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