Tour Down Under debut indicates new approach for Valverde
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tour Down Under debut indicates new approach for Valverde

by Conal Andrews at 5:30 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Vuelta a España winner Alejandro Valverde has indicated that he will make his 2010 debut in the Santos Tour Down Under in January, thus reversing a trend in other years to hold back in the early season.

The 29-year-old Spaniard will line out alongside fellow Grand Tour contenders such as Cadel Evans and Lance Armstrong in the ProTour race, which will begin on January 17th. His presence will add a further buzz to the event, which enjoyed huge media attention and spectator support in 2009.

Once back in Europe, Valverde will continue racing. He’ll line out in the Tour of the Mediterranean, Paris-Nice, the Vuelta a Catalunya, the GP Miguel Indurain and the Tour of the Basque Country, with all these races serving as preparation for the Ardennes Classics, his first big goal.

Valverde will aim to repeat his 2006 and 2008 victories in Liège-Bastogne-Liège plus his 2006 triumph in Fléche Wallonne, as well as aiming for would be a first-ever win for him in the Amstel Gold race.

The busy early-season block will be followed by a break from competition to recharge his batteries. He’ll return in time for the Dauphiné Libéré, a race he won in 2008 and 2009, then go on to ride the Spanish national championships and the Tour de France.

As for the Vuelta, he’ll wait until after the Tour before he make a decision about defending his title.

However these plans will depend on the decision taken by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). It is due to hold two hearings concerning Valverde’s alleged involvement in Operación Puerto. He’s already been banned for two years in Italy and if this decision is extended worldwide, he may not do very much racing at all in 2010, or 2011 for that matter.

No dates have yet been set for the CAS hearings, but they are likely to take place in the first few months of 2010. Perhaps that’s one reason why Valverde’s keen to start racing as soon as possible.

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