Valverde training with Team Movistar in Majorca, says that his condition is very good
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Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Valverde training with Team Movistar in Majorca, says that his condition is very good

by Conal Andrews at 6:07 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Spaniard working hard during his suspension

Alejandro ValverdeAlthough he’s been blocked from racing since incurring a backdated two year suspension last May 31, Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde has said that he is almost as fit as he was prior to the 2010 season. The 30 year old is intent on resuming racing next year at a high level and said that he has been working hard.

“After such a long time without competing I must say my level is a very good one right now,” he stated from Majorca. “In fact [it’s] almost the same as last year at the same period when I came here to prepare the 2010 season. I will go home really motivated to keep on training very well before I can compete again.”

Valverde arrived on the Spanish island on February 2nd, exactly a week ago, and said that he has been mixing things up since then in order to build both endurance and to remain sharp. He stated that he’s been conducting “different kind of training sessions in fact: some very long ones, more than 5 hours and a half and also shorter ones, about three hours or three and a half. I also did some tests to check my physical condition. I am satisfied with everything I have been doing here and I even feel stronger now.”

Valverde competed with the Caisse d’Epargne team since 2005, winning a large number of races with the squad including the Vuelta a España, two editions of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, as well as the 2006 Flèche Wallonne and the 2009 Volta a Catalunya. He therefore has long-running ties with the team and is tipped to return to competition with the squad after his ban expires on January 1st, 2012.

Valverde has maintained his links with the squad, now renamed Team Movistar due to its backing by one of Spain’s biggest mobile phone companies, and has actually been spending his time in Majorca with the riders. The team lacks a real figurehead this year and his training with them will further those expectations that he will return in ten month’s time.

“I called Eusebio Unzúe [Movistar general manager] and he gave me the opportunity to come here and train with my former team-mates,” he explained. “I am very happy about the chance I received to ride with the riders of the team. It is also very nice to live again things from inside a team.”

“To see them again was really something great, a moment of happiness for them and for me. To spend those days with them was very important to me because I experienced again how it feels to make part of a team. After such a long time without seeing them, it was a fantastic feeling.”

Valverde’s ban came about due to his implication in Operacíón Puerto. He was identified as the rider bearing the codename ‘Valv. Piti,’ with the latter part of that title corresponding to the name of his dog. He was also linked to the blood bag number 18 seized during the Puerto raids in Madrid in May 2006, with DNA testing confirming that it was indeed his blood.

He fought any attempts to suspend him through a number of courts, and continued doing so up to recently. However his efforts to sidestep a ban have been rejected at each point and he now looks certain to have to wait until next season before returning.

Cycling fans will have mixed feelings about his return but, whatever the debates, under the rules of the sport he’s free to resume racing prior to next year’s Tour Down Under. He explained what he has been doing to try to remain sharp.

“I try to keep the same rhythm as the previous years. I trained very hard untill October. After that I took 25 days of rest. After that I started working in the fitness centre, running and using my mountain bike; in fact, a little of everything so as not to lose the dynamics of the previous years. Now I train again only with my road bike in order to accumulate kilometres.”

He will return home on Thursday, take two days of reduced exercise to recover, and then resume training in his home region of Murcia. In order to keep mentally fresh and focussed, he has organised training camps, and will train at altitude when the weather improves. “What is important is not to lose the rhythm to have the best possible preparation and be ready when I start competing again,” he explained, adding that he has drawn motivation from the support he has received, including from other riders.

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