Alejandro Valverde Interview
Alejandro Valverde earlier today received the UCI ProTour Winner’s trophy in Paris, France. The trophy was handed to him by UCI President Mr. Pat McQuaid. We talk to Valverde about the 2008 season – a season he describes as an “exceptional” one.
How do you describe and rate your 2008 season?
There is no doubt this one is the best of my sporting career till now. I showed that I am a very complete rider and that, not only thanks to my victories in the races that allowed me to win the classification of the UCI ProTour – such as the Dauphiné and the Clásica - but also thanks to my victory in a big classic like Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Spanish championship and also thanks to my stage victories in the 2008 Tour de France and the one in the 2008 Tour of Spain.
At the beginning of the season you said that in 2008 you wanted to take part in fewer races than you did the year before. Did you live up to your own promise?
It is true that this was my first intention, but in fact I raced from February till October and started winning races in March being in exceptional shape from the Dauphiné till the World Championships. I did not count the days but considering the fact that I completed two three week stage races in France and Spain, maybe I raced more days this year than the previous one. But before the Tour, it is a fact that I did no race so much as in 2007 even if, because I won a great part of the races in which I participated, it can give the impression that I raced a lot.
Which victory do you consider your most important one this year?
They are all important, but I think the one which is the more important for me is the first stage of the Tour de France, which gave me the possibility to wear the yellow jersey. It was an objective and also stirred great emotions.
What do you consider failures?
It is without any doubt the stage of the Tourmalet in the Tour, where I paid the consequences of the crash that happened a few days before. So is life. You have to look ahead.
Except from the crash, which other elements prevented you to climb on the podium in Paris?
I really believe the crash was the most important element and that explains why my legs hurt so much while climbing the Tourmalet. It was a stupid crash, but those are usually the most harmful ones. On the other side in 2009 I would like to race less before the start of the Tour in Monaco and not start racing before the end of March in order to, at least one time, base my season on the Tour only. I am convinced that, if I am lucky, I can climb on the podium and, who knows, perhaps even win the 2009 Tour de France. I am ready to sacrifice all the other races in order to reach that goal, at least to try it one year.
You won the first stage of the Dauphiné, the first of the Tour, and the first of the Vuelta. How do you explain that?
I don’t know if there is an explanation, but I believe that the fact of winning immediately is a security which gives you a form of serenity in case things do not go the way you hoped in the following stages. What is won is won! I know that some riders consider the things differently and prefer to risk everything for the final win. It has not been my philosophy till now but maybe I should try it.
Which do you prefer, one day races or stage races?
The one thing is completely different from the other. It is a fact that I really like the classics because they give me the possibility to express myself and show that I am a puncher, but if I really had to chose between a victory in any one day race and a victory in a three stage race, I would chose the second option. Also because I really like to build a race day after day.
You received much critique after the 2008 World Championships. Do you think you deserve it?
It is a fact that in the World Championship the entire team made a general mistake, except for Joaquím Rodríguez and Juan Manuel Garate who both did a great job. Various factors went against us and our strategy was not the best one, but I was not guilty the way some people claimed. Everybody has a part of the responsibility for our failure.
Is it time for you to rest a little bit now?
Yes and I believe that I deserve it. I stopped racing the day after the World Championship and took part only in a few criteriums since then. As for now I am running a little bit every day and do some fitness now and then. In two weeks from now I will take my bike again, the mountain bike one in a first time. It is important to rest, most of all mentally for a while before starting training again on the bike.