Valverde will focus on Tour de France in 2010
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Valverde will focus on Tour de France in 2010

by Steve Jones at 2:16 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Vuelta a España
 

Caisse d'Epargne leader Alejandro Valverde told Biciciclismo today that he is 100% focused on the Tour de France for the 2010 season. This year the Spaniard sealed up his first win in a Grand Tour, beating World Champion Cadel Evans in the Vuelta a Espana.

"The Tour is above everything, and it will be my main focus," said Valverde.

Valverde, 29, was forced to sit out the 2009 edition of the Tour de France due to its brief incursion onto Italian soil during stage 16. Earlier this year the anti-doping tribunal of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) sentenced him to a two-year ban for his involvement with the Operation Puerto scandal. Blood samples taken from Valverde in Italy during the 2008 Tour de France matched the DNA in blood bags seized during the Operation Puerto searches, prompting the action.

Two upcoming hearings with the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS) will determine whether the International Cycling Union's case against the cyclist will extend his ban beyond the borders of Italy to include the rest of the world.

Should Valverde win the case allowing him to compete in the Tour, he will be up against some stiff competition from compatriot and defending champion Alberto Contador, who confirmed he will be staying with the Astana team earlier this week. Just behind on the threat meter is seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who has dubbed the 2010 season comeback 2.0. The American will look to exchange his third place this year for another win, with a stacked RadioShack team directed by Johan Bruyneel at his disposal. Along with Armstrong will be a maturing Andy Schleck, who finished second in the Tour this year. The Luxembourger has had a trajectory that will likely see him atop the Tour podium in the future. The wildcard of the 2010 Tour will certainly be World Champion Cadel Evans, who is a two-time second place finisher. The Australian has moved over to the American BMC Racing team, and will have the likes of George Hincapie and John Lelangue to help him along.

Despite the stiff competition in July Valverde hasn't flinched, instead saying that the roads of the Tour will decide who will be the winner. After winning the Vuelta this year the Spaniard isn't ready to commit to defending his title saying, "I do not think about the Vuelta, it [my participation] will depend on many factors."

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