Alejandro Valverde won this year for the 4th time the UCI World Tour ranking and he fulfilled a goal that he was looking for many years, a place on the podium in Le Tour. In addition, he won for the third time the Ardennes classics Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, in what was for him the best season in the professional peloton.
Cycling Today: In 2015 you won for the 4th time the World Tour classification. You enjoyed the success with the same joy as in 2014?
Alejandro Valverde: More or less. This year, victory in this hierarchy has given me more satisfaction because it was the second consecutive and came after a better season, perhaps the most successful of my professional career.
It is comparable to the joy brought by the success in World Tour with a victory in a grand tour?
No, is something different. Winning the World Tour ranking is the result of constant good shape and good results throughout the season, but a victory in a grand tour involves three weeks of heavy and terrible work of the whole team. Winning a grand tour gives you a special joy, but any success is ultimately important.
Good performances that you had in Dwars door Vlaanderen and E3 Harelbeke in 2014 influenced your decision to participate in this year’s Tour of Flanders?
Yes, I had good sensations in those races, but Tour of Flanders is something else. I have never participated in this race, but it is a nice event that I wanted to mark off until the end of my career, and now I think it’s the right time. The cobblestones, the length of the route and the weather conditions can make the competition very tough in Tour of Flanders. It will be difficult to get a good result from the first experience, but I think it is a race that suits me.
You will have a difficult task in the company’s Kristoff, Sagan and Cancellara ..
I am aware that it will be complicated, but I want to play my chances. Amstel, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège are races where I know what I can get, but Tour of Flanders will be a complete novelty, I don’t have any landmark in this race.
Movistar transferred Daniel Moreno and Carlos Betancur this year, cyclists that could help you in the Ardennes classics. We can say that this season the team is stronger than ever?
It is obvious that Dani Moreno and Betancur are two very good acquisition for us, but I do not know if the team will be stronger. Movistar was the best team in the World Tour rankings the past 3 years, it remains to be seen how we handle it this year.
With Nibali, Uran and Landa at the start, do you think a podium finish in Giro d’Italia will be accessible for you?
Yes, I believe it is an achievable goal. But I also think that it will be a very complicated race. Nibali is a very strong rider, Landa has progressed a lot in the last year, and Rigoberto always had good performance in the Giro, but none of them is invincible. It’ll be hard to get the victory, but I’ll start with confidence.
You won La Vuleta, have been on the podium in the Tour de France, and a top three in the Giro would place you in an exclusive club of riders who have been on the podium all three grand tours. It is an extra motivation?
It would be a personal achievement, but first I want to enjoy the race, to see how is Giro and then to get a good result. We will approach the competition calmly and see what will come out. Until now, May was a break period for me, but this year I will be in full competition for the first time and I’m curious how my body responds.
What can you tell us about your youth team, Valverde Team?
I am very glad that we succeeded with this team. We have a group of cadets and a group of juniors, and in addition, we collaborate with many schools in the region of Murcia to try to attract many more children to the sport. I want to give cycling what it gave me.
The team is handled by a few people that I trust. The children are very enthusiastic and they want to win races, but at their age victories are not important, but that they grow and they do what they like.
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