Valverde unhappy with Paris-Nice prologue but promises strong ending to race
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Monday, March 08, 2010

Valverde unhappy with Paris-Nice prologue but promises strong ending to race

by Conal Andrews at 5:31 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Paris-Nice
 

Alejandro Valverde is regarded by many as one of the big favourites for Paris-Nice, particularly after his Tour of the Mediterranean victory, but yesterday’s prologue in Paris-Nice did not go to plan.

Valverde ended the day 29 seconds behind the day’s winner Lars Boom (Rabobank), only managing to place 31st in the eight kilometre test.

While Boom is not expected to challenge for the race honours, Valverde lost 23 seconds to contenders Levi Leipheimer (Radio Shack) and Alberto Contador (Astana), 17 seconds to defending race champion Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d’Epargne), 16 to Roman Kreuziger (Liquigas) and 14 to Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi), the rider he beat in last year’s Vuelta a España.

“I am a little bit disappointed because I hoped to get a better result in this first important stage,” he said. “But I had rather good feelings and this is a good point considering the difficult stages which we shall have to face at the end of next week.”

Valverde had actually seemed to be on course for a good time, being just one second behind Boom at the first intermediate time check, but clearly blew up between there and the line.

The Spaniard is known as an explosive rider, but peculiarly said that he wasn’t suited to the course. “The route of this prologue was not really a good one for my characteristics because it required [riders] to be very powerful. As a consequence I guess I have to be satisfied with what I achieved today.”

The race continues today with a 203.5 kilometre race from Saint-Arnoult-en-Yvelines to Contres. It is extremely flat and a bunch sprint is almost guaranteed. The next two days are lumpier, while Friday’s stage to Mende finishes with a tough climb to the line. Friday, Saturday and Sunday feature more mountains.

Valverde said that he’s likely to play things quietly for the next few days, then make his move.

“The race will be a very demanding one not only because the course will be difficult but also because of the weather,” he said. “It looks like it will be even colder than today in the next days. Nevertheless the stages I like will take place only at the end of the next week and I will wait for them, very quietly, because I know my team is a very strong and united one.”

In 2005 he won the last stage and finished second overall to Bobby Julich.

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