Valverde still dreaming of podium place
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Monday, July 21, 2008

Valverde still dreaming of podium place

by Agence France-Presse at 11:32 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Spaniard Alejandro Valverde has declared his intention to fight for a podium place on the Tour de France despite languishing down in ninth place overall.

Valverde, who rides for Caisse d'Epargne, became the first big yellow jersey victim when the pace of the CSC team proved too much for him during the 10th stage to Hautacam in the Pyrenees.

Five days before then Valverde, who started the Tour as a big favourite after winning the Dauphine Libere stage race, suffered a crash which could have sent him home early.

Ahead of two crucial days in the Alps, he is now in ninth place overall at 4min 11sec behind new race leader Frank Schleck of CSC, who has five riders witin a minute behind him.

But, despite losing key teammate Oscar Pereiro to a nasty crash on Sunday, for the Spanish ace the race for a top three finish is far from over. "I've totally recovered from my crash, both physically and mentally," said the 28-year-old Valverde, whose best finish on the Tour was his sixth place last year. "Now I feel like I'm back to my best form and I hope to really show what I can do in the two coming days. "Getting a podium place in Paris will be difficult for me, but I don't think it's impossible."

Valverde started his campaign in style by pulling on the yellow jersey, then wearing it the next day, after claiming a stylish victory on the first stage in Plumelec. "My first aim is to claim another stage win, although that won't be easy because I won't be allowed too much freedom," added Valverde. "Without Oscar (Pereiro) things will be a bit more difficult but I can count on David Arroyo to help pace me up to the final part of the climbs."

Pereiro, who flew over a road sign prior to a hairpin bend to land on the road below with shoulder injuries, is still in hospital according to the team's doctor Jesus Hoyos and is awaiting a possible transfer to Spain.
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