Alejandro Valverde Interview
Tomorrow, Saturday August 29, Alejandro Valverde (Team Caisse d'Epargne) will initiate his 2009 Vuelta a Espana in the prologue of the 64th edition of the Tour of Spain with the clear intention of winning a three week Grand Tour for the first time in his career.
We are on the eve of the 2009 Tour of Spain. After you showed you were in good condition at the beginning of August when you won the Tour of Burgos, how do you feel right now?
“I am feeling very well physically and mentally, really hungry to race and very motivated. But in a three week race that is not sufficient. I hope I will also be lucky and have no health problem so that this year can be mine!”
Many analysts and bookmakers say you are the biggest favorite for the final win in Madrid. Is this a source of motivation or does it put you under stress?
“It is true that the media say I am the biggest favorite for this Tour of Spain. I am indeed under pressure but not more than in any other race in which I am at the start. I am use to that and it is in fact an extra source of motivation. I am a winner and there where I go I always want to do my best. I know this is a great opportunity for me and I have all the elements in my hands to be very close to victory. So why should I not win?”
What do you think about the course the organizers chose for this Vuelta?
“The Vuelta 2009 will be a very tough one. The mountain stages are numerous and very difficult not only for the fact that they arrive in altitude but also because there will be many other climbs during those stages before reaching the final one. There will not be one queen stage in this Vuelta but several ones. The hot weather will also play an important role in the southern part of Spain. Let’s take an example: the stage that finishes at the top of Velefique can be really infernal. This Vuelta will more than probably be an elimination race.”
There is no long time trial. Is it a real advantage for you?
“It is a fact that the less time trials there are the better for me. There are only 62, 5 kilometers in total including the prologue. It is not a lot and we have also to take into account the fact that the time trial of Toledo will not be raced on a flat circuit. It is on the contrary the kind of course I like and because it is programmed on the last but one day of the race it will be an advantage for the rider who is fresher than the other ones.”
How do you see your rivals?
“I believe that the fact the mountain stages are very difficult is not the only important fact. The other one is the level of the riders who will try to win it. My rivals are in very god shape and very motivated too to win the race, like for example Cadel Evans, Iván Basso, Robert Gesink, Samuel Sánchez, Ezequiel Mosquera and also Vinokourov even if it could be more difficult for him considering the fact that he did not compete during the last two years.”
How do you feel about the fact that the Tour of Spain will start from the circuit of Assen in the Northern part of the Netherlands?
“To start from the Netherlands is something very special and a little bit strange. It is not obvious to realize that we are in the Vuelta a España but we already saw that the public is really enthusiast about our presence here and they are treating us very well so that we are very happy to be here. But in spite of the fact that we are outside our country the Vuelta really starts tomorrow and we shall have to be very careful during the first stages because there will not be easy ones. The number of roundabouts and crossroads is really impressive and there are also two sections of cobblestones which can be really dangerous.”