After winning two stages and the general classification at Vuelta a Castilla y Leon, Alejandro Valverde has restated his favorite status for the two remaining Ardennes classics. Having won La Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège three times, including successes in both last year, Valverde is certainly the man to beat in spite of his interest for Giro d`Italia.
Valverde is building his form towards the Giro this year and maybe that is a reason for his quiet spring season. Apart from some strong showings in Andalucia and Castilla y Leon he did not hit the headlines too often this year. Having Giro as his top priority as opposed to the Tour de France has certainly shaped his spring season. Earlier, in February, he had his say on the Ardennes races:
“Rather than being in top shape I don’t know if I’ll be there at 100 per cent, because I’ve got the Giro d’Italia in May,” he said. “You’ve got to be so strong to win those races. I think while I’ll be good, I don’t know if I’ll be good enough to win them.”
After showing good form in Spain, Movistar director José Luis Arrieta is hopeful regarding Valverde`s chances for this week:
“Doing so well in Castilla y León is really good for his morale, and it’s a good sign for all of the races that are coming up – both Flèche and Liège and the Giro d’Italia. We’ll see how he goes in these Classics, but normally he manages to do them extremely well, no matter what. He’s always up there.” said José Luis Arrieta.
Alejandro Valverde had his season tailor made for Giro and as a result of his preparation he missed both the Tour de Flanders and Amstel Gold Race. In previous years these were unmissable races, but now the priorities have changed.
“He pulled out of the Tour of Flanders because after racing Tirreno-Adriatico and doing a reconnaissance of the stages of the Giro d’Italia he realised he’d have to do more training focused on a good performance in May. He’s been to Tenerife training and then we thought coming here to Amstel Gold would be too abrupt a switch from training to racing. So he did the Clásica de Amorebieta and the Castilla y León to get some race rhythm before going on to Flèche and Liège.” continued José Luis Arrieta.
Valverde had his say on his form going into this intense week of racing: “They are races that I’ve been fortunate enough to win in the past on several occasions, but at the same time, I have to bear in mind that it’s getting closer and closer to the really big objective of the first part of the season.”
It is going to be an exciting week of racing both for Alejandro and for the fans as La Flèche Wallonne is just around the corner.
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