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Spaniard hopes to finally win the Ardennes classics still missing on his palmares

Photo: Sirotti










11.04.2013 @ 11:50 Posted by Jesper Johannesen

After a disappointing performance in last year's Ardennes classics, Alejandro Valverde is back to get his revenge this season. He spearheads a strong Movistar team in his attempt to finally win the Amstel Gold Race and will be formidably supported by Vuelta al Pais Vasco winner Nairo Quintana.


Alejandro Valverde is one of his generation's most gifted riders in the Ardennes classics and with two Liege-Bastogne-Liege victories and one triumph in the Fleche Wallonne, his palmares prove his credentials in the hilly one-day races. Last year, he returned to one of his preferred stomping grounds after his coming back from his suspension but he disappointed massively with a 22nd place in the Amstel Gold Race being his best result.


After a strong start to his season, he is back this year to get his revenge and the Ardennes classics have long been pointed out as his first major target of the year. His first objective will be to finally win the first of the classics, the Amstel Gold Race, which is the only one missing on his palmares.


Valverde arrives with less racing in his legs than he usually does as he attempts to remain fresh for his main goal in the Tour de France. However, he has been protagonist whenever he has entered a race and with a victory in the hardest race of the Challenge Mallorca, an overall victory in the Vuelta a Andalucia, 3rd place in the Vuelta a Murcia and a 4th place in the GP Miguel Indurain, his results prove that he is back to his best after his suspension. Furthermore, he was in a strong position to in the Volta a Catalunya but clad in the leader's jersey he was forced to abandon due to a crash.


He had planned to race the Klasika Primavera last Sunday but a bout of illness made him forfeit his participation. Hence, his last race was the Vuelta a la Rioja on March 31.


The final of the Amstel Gold Race has been changed and the race will no longer finish at the top of the Cauberg. Instead, the finish line is located 1800 meters after the climb as it was the case in last year's world championships. Valverde was 3rd in that race proving that he knows how to handle the final part of Sunday's race.


He will be formidably supported by the recent winner of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco. The short, explosive climbs may not be perfectly suited to the pure climber who will probably also not like the hard battle for position on the narrow, twisting roads in the Limburg province but nobody can doubt his strong condition.


The team is completed by Rui Costa - winner of Sunday's Klasika Primavera and 13th overall in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco - Andrey Amador, veteran Pablo Lastras, Imanol Erviti, Angel Madrazo and Ardennes specialist Giovanni Visconti.


Javier Moreno defends title in the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon

Meanwhile, Javier Moreno returns to the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon to defend last year's overall victory. The three-day race starts tomorrow with a flat stage before the riders will head into the mountains for two crucial stages during the weekend.


Moreno was off to a perfect start to the season with an overall 2nd place in the Tour Down Under but has since slotted in to his usual domestique role supporting the likes of Valverde and Quintana. This weekend's race another rare opportunity to go a for a personal result.


He will be supported by strong climbers Sylwester Szmyd, Vladimir Karpets and Ruben Plaza, strong men Jose Ivan Gutierrez and Eloy Teruel and sprinters Enrique Sanz and Jose Joaquin Rojas.



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