Valverde “very motivated” for the Ardennes
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Valverde “very motivated” for the Ardennes

by Ben Atkins at 12:35 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Liège-Bastogne-Liège , Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne

alejandro valverdeAlejandro Valverde (Caisse d’Epargne) is a rider whose characteristics are well suited to the classics of the Ardennes, the Amstel Gold Race, la Flèche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. The controversial Spanish rider approaches the races after two stage wins and finishing second overall in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, behind RadioShack’s Chris Horner. He is now raising his sights to his next targets of the season: the hilly classics of the Netherlands and Belgium.

“On Sunday after the Tour of the Basque Country I travelled back home and I rested the entire day,” sad Valverde. “On Monday I was back on my bike but without making too many efforts. It was important to recover my forces before what is expected in the Netherlands and in Belgium.”

After a successful spring, which has also included victory in the Tour of the Mediterranean and second place overall in Paris-Nice, the rider nicknamed the Bala-Verde (the Green Bullet) heads to the north of Europe aiming to win.

“First of all [I will be] very motivated and trying to get the best possible result,” he said, “like every time I start in a race. I like these three races very much and I believe they like me too. I won the Flèche Wallonne once [in 2006] and Liège-Bastogne-Liège twice [in 2006 and 2008]. This year also I would like to win one out of the three.”

Despite having won the two Belgian races, he has yet to finish better than his third place of 2008. “It is true that this beautiful race is still missing in my palmares,” he said. “If you look at the route it seems to be the perfect one for me but because that race is the first of the three in the calendar, each time I took the start lacking some hours on the bike.

“On the contrary, I have always been feeling better in Liège, which takes place one week later and I already have two classics in my legs. I also lacked some forces in the final. I hope I will be lucky this year and that I will still have forces in the last kilometres to be able to fight for victory.”

While aiming to be on his own best form, Valverde knows which riders to look out for; the names of which are also specialists on this type of racing. “I believe that we will see the same riders as usual in front in these races,” he said. “Rabobank riders Gesink and Freire will of course be very motivated on their soil; the brothers [Andy and Fränk] Schleck participated in the Tour of the Basque Country to prepare for these classics.”

Then riders like Joaquím Rodríguez, Sergey Ivanov [both Team Katusha], Chris Horner [RadioShack],” he continued, “and Alberto Contador [Astana] who will not start in the Amstel but will be present in Flèche and in Liège. And for sure there will be some other strong rider which is not on my mind right now.”

Whoever else is motivated for the Ardennes races, the figure of Alejandro Valverde is sure to be visible in all three races.


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