Valverde says he’s training hard, and is determined to return to the top
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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Valverde says he’s training hard, and is determined to return to the top

by Conal Andrews at 12:29 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Still feels a sense of injustice over his ban

Alejandro ValverdeFormer world number one and 2009 Vuelta a España winner Alejandro Valverde has vowed to return at the end of his current suspension and prove to everyone that he is still the same rider as before.

He was sidelined after the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled against him on May 31st, handing him a ban until January 2012. Since then, he has worked hard to try to limit the disruption to his fitness.

“I train like I was still active [racing] because it is very difficult to back to the top after a year without racing. My racing weight is 61 kg, I now weigh 63.5. This is not too bad,” the Murcian rider told Meta 2 Mil.

Valverde was implicated in Operación Puerto in 2006, but remained unsanctioned for several seasons. The Spanish cycling federation RFEC refused to suspend him, saying that the judicial investigation into Eufemiano Fuentes and others was unfinished and that it would not act in the interim. The UCI and WADA finally forced the rider to stop racing via its CAS action.

Valverde was partly identified through the codename Valv. Piti, with the latter part of that moniker being the name of his dog. He denied this was the case, but this was contradicted by a Spanish journalist who interviewed him before the Puerto case broke. He was also implicated via DNA comparisons done by the Italian Olympic committee CONI, which took blood samples from him when the 2008 Tour de France crossed the border.

Months after being handed his ban, he remains frustrated by what happened, but said he will prove a point by coming back as strong as before.

“The UCI president Pat McQuaid said that cases such as those relating to me should be punished with four years of a suspension. It is a great injustice. I am the only rider whose name is not mentioned in the report of the investigators to have been suspended.”

“I have passed hundreds of drug tests in my career and they have all my blood values. I was the UCI world number one for three years and know that I have never created any problem nor had suspect values, so it is clear that I won despite the tension that I was living with and despite being the most tested rider in the world.”

Returning to the top step of the podium is his big focus now. “I will serve the suspension. I will find my place in the peloton in the first few months. But after three or four months, everyone will see once again the real Valverde.”

The 30 year old stated that he is likely to return with the Movistar team of Eusebio Unzue, the directeur sportif with whom he has raced the past few seasons. However he said that he would consider other offers and also needs to make sure that Unzue wants him on the team.

The latter has stated this on more than one occasion, and so there is little doubt that his former squad will be hoping for his return there.


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