Valverde still believes it’s possible to win the Tour de France, but promises no clash with Quintana
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Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Valverde still believes it’s possible to win the Tour de France, but promises no clash with Quintana

by VeloNation Press at 11:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Spaniard says he’ll ride for Colombian team-mate if required

Alejandro ValverdeHe’s won a Vuelta a España but is yet to finish higher than sixth overall in the Tour de France; in addition to that, his Movistar team-mate Nairo Quintana finished second in his first-ever attempt at the race. However despite those two factors, Alejandro Valverde is not giving up on hopes that he can yet take the yellow jersey to Paris.

The Movistar team rider finished third in last year’s Vuelta a España, a race he won back in 2009. And while he is 33 years of age, he feels he still has the energy and room for improvement and still has a chance to take the final Maillot Jaune.

At the very least, he wants to finish in the top three. “The podium, of course,” he told AS, when asked what his immediate goals are. “I have already taken stages. I have the power, but luck has not favoured me. So I’ll be back to try again.

“I feel good, both physically and psychologically. In 2012 I was second in the Vuelta and in 2013, third. I have not finished with the bike, I have three or four good seasons left. I am motivated, this is the key to training and to look for more wins. Evans won the Tour at 34 years of age, so why not?”

Valverde knows that he needs several things to go in his favour. Luck is one of them; he punctured at a bad time on stage thirteen of the 2013 Tour and dropped from second to sixteenth overall, losing almost nine minutes to Chris Froome (Sky). He ultimately finished eighth overall, but might otherwise have been on the podium.

He also needs a course which is heavy on hills and light on time trials. In addition to that, he needs a team which is fully behind him.

The last factor is one which might be a bit tricky, given that Quintana showed this year that he is definitely a rider who could win the race in the future. If Valverde is to have full tilt at yellow, his team-mate would need to either be out of the frame for the win himself.

However while that would seem to set things up for a potential conflict, Valverde insists that this is not the case.

“I’m not going to slow his progression,” he said. “Eusebio Unzué divided the calendar between use. If I need to sacrifice myself for him, I will do it, as I have had done and as he has done or would do for me.

“[We get on] very well. With my experience, I try to help young people. He has asked me for advice, we shared a room and we get on phenomenally during and away from the race.”

Quintana has said that he would consider targeting the Giro d’Italia rather than the Tour de France in 2014, although more recently he said that Unzué would ultimately make that decision. He’s consequently unsure whether or not he will be racing in Italy.

Valverde said that he too is also not sure what his programme will be. “I really like the layout of the next Giro, but I like the Tour even more. We’ll see what we decide. The Vuelta is always in my plans. I love it and it is the only Grand Tour that I have on my palmares.”

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