Valverde hoping top three finish is possible in Tour de France
  July 23, 2014 Login  

Current Articles    |   Archives    |   RSS Feeds    |   Search

Friday, June 29, 2012

Valverde hoping top three finish is possible in Tour de France

by VeloNation Press at 11:22 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Vuelta champion Cobo says his own form is good and he’ll support Movistar captain

Alejandro ValverdeAlthough his best finish to date is sixth place in the 2007 Tour, Alejandro Valverde returns to the race after a long absence aiming to net a place in the top three in Paris.

The Movistar rider hasn’t competed in the race since 2008, when he won a stage and placed ninth overall. He was blocked from starting in 2009 due to his links to Operación Puerto, then handed a partially-backdated two year ban in 2010. He returned to competition at the start of this season and quickly clocked up results by netting a stage and second overall in the Santos Tour Down Under.

He has continued to race well since then, and showed good form while helping team-mate Rui Costa win the Tour de Suisse.

While he acknowledges a gap in his participation plus the near-three year gap since he last rode a Grand Tour [the 2009 Vuelta a España, which he won – ed.], Valverde said he’s determined to fight for a podium slot.

“We know it has been a three-Tour lapse without competing, but I know I'm okay and my only doubt is how I will react to a long, three-week event, especially in the last week,” he said at the pre-race press conference.

“There are two favourites a bit above the rest, Wiggins and Evans, but afterwards there's a small group of riders into a similar level. Personally, I come to this "kilometre zero" with much willingness and excitement to do well. We're strong and I'm sure we will do a great Tour.”

Valverde is a strong climber and sprinter, but not at the same level as some of his rivals against the clock. He recognises that this year’s race is weighted towards that discipline, but also insists that there’s scope elsewhere to open gaps.

“It's obvious that this year's route, with 100k of time trials, isn't the most appropriate one for me, but the Tour isn't just those two days,” he reasoned. “We'll try to defend well there and gain some ground elsewhere; there’s so many stages ahead where everything can happen."

He’ll draw encouragement from his performances in certain races this year. Apart from going well in the Santos Tour Down Under and the Tour de Suisse, he also won a stage in both Paris-Nice and the Vuelta a Andalucia, and also took the overall classification in the latter.

Cobo insists form is good:

Since ending up as the surprise winner of the Vuelta a España last September, Juan Jose Cobo has been very quiet. He’s taken no results of note, other than tenth in the recent Spanish TT championships, and withdrew from the Critérium du Dauphiné due to fatigue. Despite that, he says he’s where he needs to be.

“I think my condition is rather good. Going by the few days of racing I have completed and I how I performed there, it might seem I'm not okay, but the team has kept me calm and I want to reward them back here for that confidence,” he said.

“I think that my body will get to 100% as the Tour advances and my biggest goal, and also a big responsibility, is being close to Alejandro as much as possible. I want to help him get onto the podium because he proved he's perfectly capable of doing that. I don't mind being sixth, eighth, tenth: it's just helping him when he needs it.”

The duo will be joined by Costa, who won a stage last year, plus José Joaquín Rojas, Rubén Plaza, Vasil Kiryienka, Iván Gutiérrez, Imanol Erviti and Vladimir Karpets.

General manager Eusebio Unzué says that things have been good with the team and that it has already exceed its 2011 victory list of 21 wins. “We are bringing two riders able to perform well in a three-week stage race,” he said. “Alejandro won the last Grand Tour he took the start in (2009) and Juanjo did the same in last year's Vuelta. With all those things in mind, we can't think [of something] other than trying to be at the Tour podium this year. The quality and experience of both give us confidence to do so."

      comments




Subscribe via RSS or daily email

WHAT'S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW
  Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy  Copyright 2008-2013 by VeloNation LLC