Valverde looks to next races as CAS hearing looms
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Monday, March 15, 2010

Valverde looks to next races as CAS hearing looms

by Conal Andrews at 7:44 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 

Second overall in Paris-Nice, Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde is turning his attention toward the Volta ao Pais Vasco while also facing the second of his anti-doping hearings with the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

On Thursday a four-day process will begin, under which the UCI and WADA will seek to win a judgement against the Spanish Cycling Federation, the Real Federación Española de Ciclismo (RFEC), and Valverde over the federation’s refusal to open disciplinary hearings against the rider.

The process is related to Valverde’s alleged links to Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes and the Operación Puerto doping affair.

Valverde’s legal team previously defended the rider in a January hearing. This was an appeal against the Italian Olympic Committee CONI’s decision to ban him from racing in Italy for two years.

A decision is due this month but no date for that has been disclosed.

Valverde is facing a two year ban if CAS rules against him in the latest hearing; also, if he loses the January appeal, the UCI could seek to convert the Italian ban to a worldwide sanction.

However, despite facing considerable stress as a result of the proceedings, the Caisse d’Epargne rider has continued to race well. He won last month’s Tour of the Mediterranean and yesterday finished second to Alberto Contador in Paris-Nice, ending the eight-day race just eleven seconds behind the Astana rider.

He matched Contador’s accelerations on the final climb of the Col d’Eze, then won the group sprint for third place and picked up another time bonus.

Valverde said afterwards that while he was disappointed not to win, he took encouragement from the fact that he was relatively close to Contador in terms of strength.

“I have to be satisfied with the second place in the general classification, just like in 2005, although I must admit that I hoped to do better this time” he said. “What is important is that the gap with Alberto Contador was only eleven seconds. It is enough but that represents very few seconds and that is important for the next races.

“Everybody knows Alberto is a very strong rider. It is not easy at all to defeat him but it is not impossible, and that is good for the motivation.”

CAS decisions permitting, he will next compete in the Volta ao Pais Vasco, which runs between April 5th and 10th. Aside from being a goal in itself, this will also enable him to hone his form ahead of some big one-day appointments.

“Now I will rest during a few days before starting training again. I will start racing in the Tour of the Basque Country where I will finish my preparation for the Classics,” he said.

If the CAS does not rule in his favor Valverde told El Pais, "I will return to cycling and will continue to win. Without a second thought. I'm just thinking about winning," he said.

He admitted he was still "very angry" about his current situation, and started his season earlier than usual by racing in the Tour Down Under in January.  When asked if he was racing each race with his uncertain future in mind he answered, ""I do not ride every race as if it were the last, far from it. The situation was the same in 2009," he said.  "I don't think about it."

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