Alejandro Valverde (Team Caisse d’Epargne) is one of the top favorites for the 2009 Spanish Vuelta – RC finds out about his progress and goals this year as well as his strategy for dealing with mounting UCI and WADA pressure. This years Spanish Vuelta begins in the Netherlands on Saturday the 29th.
RC speaks to the Spanish pro rider for Bicycles Network Australia (BNA).
BNA: Despite missing the Tour de France, you have still won some tours such as the Crit?rium du Dauphin? Lib?r? ahead of Cadel Evans and Alberto Contador and the recent Tour of Burgos. Are you satisfied with your riding and performance this year?
Yes, indeed, I believe I have to be very satisfied with my results till now. I was not in a good shape enough to be the best in the classics this year because I changed my preparation to arrive at hundred percent in the Tour de France. But from the moment it seems difficult for me to go to the Tour I decided to give it all in races like the Tour of Catalu?a and the Dauphin?. And I won both.
BNA: What are your goals for the up-and-coming World Championships in Mendrisio, Switzerland?
Of course I dream to win the World Championships some day and why not this year as people tell the circuit is a very good one for me but to tell you the truth I am currently focusing only on the Vuelta. Anyway if I finish the Vuelta in good condition I believe I will still be one week later for the Worlds.
BNA: The Vuelta Espa?a is your biggest tour of the year, how do you judge your condition?
On the occasion of the Tour of Burgos I could see that I was already in good condition even if I still needed to train a lot before being really well for the Vuelta, what I did during the last two weeks in the mountains. I believe I am very well but I have no element of comparison to judge so that I will have to wait being in the race to really know.
BNA: You will have tough competition, are you focusing on a Tour win and who is your biggest challenger?
Yes indeed I really would like to win my first three weeks major stage race and I believe this year is a good opportunity because I am very fresh and also very motivated but of course I will not be the only one. Many riders can pretend to victory and I think that the most dangerous will be Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso, Robert Gesink, Ezequiel Mosquera and many others.
BNA: Are you looking for a podium finish at the end of the three week race or are you looking to win stages?
I am looking for the podium and possibly the first step and if there is also a stage win, even better!
BNA: How do you see your team for the Vuelta, do you think your team will be strong?
Yes indeed it is a very strong team with excellent climbers like Joaqu?m Rodriguez and David Lopez. It is very important because this Vuelta is really a difficult one with a lot of mountains. I believe it is the most difficult I will ever ride.
BNA: What is your training program in the lead up to the start of the Vuelta Espa?a which begins in Holland at the end of the month?
Tomorrow I will already travel to the Netherlands but as I told you before I trained a lot in the mountains because they will be the key of the Vuelta.
BNA: You have a lot of media attention because of issues with the UCI and WADA, what’s your take on the politics behind the surrounding your ban on racing in Italy?
I don’t want to talk about that. My lawyers are busy with the affair and I trust them. For my party, I only want to focus on the race because I would like to win it.
BNA: What keeps you focused and your mind off the pressure by the UCI and WADA?
Once I am on the bike it is the only thing that matters to me. It is not a problem for me to concentrate once I am in a competition. Sometimes it is not that easy when I am training but I do my best to forget anything but the bike.
BNA: You recently rode your new Pinarello Dogma 60.1 in the Tour of Burgos – will you be riding this for the Spanish Vuelta and how can you compare it the Prince? Can we expect a new bike?
Yes I will indeed. During the Vuelta and next year the entire team will use that bike. It is quite similar to the Prince model but with several improvements. In the Tour of Burgos I had the opportunity to notice it was very good for accelerating in the climbs. I still have to make better acquaintance with the bike but I am sure it will be an advantage to use it.
BNA: Thank you very much for your time and good luck for the Spanish Vuelta.
Photo by khoogheem licenced under Creative Commons