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“We will see. We have to ride our own race instead of looking at rivals. I have always been close, on the podium, runner up in 2006 - but it’s not an obsession [to win],” Valverde said at a press conference.

Photo: Sirotti

ALEJANDRO VALVERDE

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BEÑAT INTXAUSTI

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ITZULIA BASQUE COUNTRY

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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07.04.2014 @ 13:24 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Alejandro Valverde is absolutely flying this season and the Movistar leader does not intend to slow down, as he lines up at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco today with a great ambitions, following his impressive debut on cobbles and most recent victory in the GP Miguel Indurain.

 

Accompanied by the Movistar manager Eusebio Unzue and his team-mate Benat Intxausti, Valverde took part in the pre-race press conference in San Sebastian, answering the questions about the upcoming event in Basque Country as well as the Tour de France, with a body language reportedly suggesting that the Spaniard is feeling more than fine at the moment.

 

Even though the Vuelta al Pais Vasco is treated by many riders, including Valverde, as a final build-up towards the Ardennes classics, Movistar team treats the event seriously and thus their two key riders have inspected its mountainous route beforehand.

 

“We have seen several stages and it appeared as a hard course, as usually in the Basque Country, with its typical difficulties and ambushes. It’s a race in which you have to remain very careful and perceiving. It is very demanding,” Valverde explained.

 

The 33-year old Spaniard admitted that he considers sharing the leadership role with Intxausti as an additional advantage for the Movistar team.

 

“Both are well, the team in general is very strong too. That’s a race which demands a huge knowledge [of the route], I know it well and Benat does even better for now.”

 

“We will see. We have to ride our own race instead of looking at rivals. I have always been close, on the podium, runner up in 2006 – but it’s not an obsession [to win],” Valverde said at the press conference.

 

The race starts with a two mountain stages when first gaps will certainly open up, but will be decided in the individual time trial on an ultimate day and Valverde believes in his chances in this discipline against the biggest contenders for the overall victory in the Besque stage event.

 

“Maybe it’s not as demanding as the time trial in previous years, but it’s held on the ultimate day and there are no great specialists in the race, but still we’ll have to wait and see how the body would respond.”

 

“It’s not flat [course] by any means. Everything depends on how you’ll divide your forces – it can make it better of worse. The biggest advantage you have over Van Garderen and Kwiatkowski at the start, the better, although I think we’ll to well enough not to be too concerned about it by that time,” Valverde elaborated.

 

Valverde rode aggressively in every race he participated in so far this season and the 33-year old Spaniard doesn’t rule out that such attitude won’t change in respect to the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.

 

“Why not to attack on the first day,” Movistar leader joked.

 

He also pointed out that weather conditions will be an important factor and race tactics will be depended on it.

 

“It’s usually bad, however, this year we should be accompanied by a good weather by at least half of a time. For me, the warmer it would be, the better.”

 

Asked about a hugely anticipated rivalry with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), Valverde pointed out to several other contenders expected to be dangerous on the mountainous courses in the Basque country.

 

“Alberto is clearly going to be one of the biggest rivals, but not the only one. There’s Rui Costa, Van Garderen, Samu [Sanchez], Betancur, Kwiatkowski, Spilak… The range of riders capable of contending for a victory is quite large.”

 

“Alberto? He’s going to be one of the most dangerous, although I’m not convinced if the most,” Valverde stated.

 

With the Ardennes classics clearly on his mind, the Movistar leader will cross the finish line in Ordizia with only 16 days before the first of them – the Amstel Gold Race, kicks off in the Netherlands. Valverde believes that his race programme consisting of multiple one-day races was a right way to build-up ahead of the hilly classics.

 

“If you study the races we were participating in, among stage events there was only Dubai [Tour] and Andalucia which are not half as demanding as Paris-Nice, Tirreno or Catalunya. We have focused on one-day races divided by recovery periods.”

 

“Accumulating days of competition, yes, but without going to far [beyond limits] like in the Vuelta. I will tune my form in the Basque Country and it’s going to be good for the three important classics.”

 

“I’m won’t call it a proper build-up but only sharpening form, because it’s not bad already. Perhaps I need to accumulate kilometers for classics and crossing the finish line here will be necessary in order to achieve it.”

 

Asked about his debut in the cobbled classics in Dwars door Vlaanderen and E3 Harelbeke, Valverde was pleased with his performances in Northern Europe and hasn’t ruled out his return to Flemish events in the future.

 

“It was the first time I rode those races, but after analyzing the Tour’s fifth stage I decided it was necessary to discover how I would be, how the whole squad would do in such circumstances. And the truth is it was good. I managed to read the action without problems while positioning is extremely important on pave.”

 

“To contend those races someday? Maybe so.. I’d like to ride [Tour of] Flanders and I think I could do pretty well there,” Valverde concluded. 

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