Alejandro Valverde Interview
Valverde evaluates his performance in the 2008 Vuelta a Espana and talks about his expectations for the 2008 World Championships in Varese.
Looking back on the 2008 Vuelta a España you took a a stage victory, which enabled you to wear the golden jersey, and you also finished 5th in the final overall rankings. Are you satisfied with your Vuelta performance?
If I consider what my goal was at the beginning of the Vuelta, which was to win a stage and to prepare myself for Varese, I think that I must be satisfied with what I carried out in the Vuelta. I won a stage, was second, third and fourth in other ones, I wore the golden jersey and was very regular in all the classifications. In the mountain stages, I fought with the best and it is also necessary to highlight my excellent behavior in both of the individual time trials. Except for the moment of inattention in the stage to Suances, which took away from me any option to finish on the podium in Madrid, the rest of [my performance] is more than positive.
Your 2008 season has brought many successes with it, but there is still a very important goal of yours left for you to target. Do you still plan to fight to obtain your World Championships goal?
This season is without any doubt the best of my sporting career [so far]. I won eleven races, among which it is [important] to highlight my victories in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the San Sebastian Classic, the Dauphiné Libéré, and the Spanish Road Cycling Championship, but without forgetting my stage wins in the 2008 Tour de France and one stage victory in the Tour of Spain. Moreover, I won the final classification of the UCI ProTour for the second time. I think that I cannot complain. Now, it is true that a very important objective remains, which is the World Championship. I hope to add a victory to my Palmarès, but if I do not succeed I will be satisfied all the same with what I achieved in 2008.
You have just finished a tough three week Grand Tour. In what physical condition do you expect to start at the 2008 World Championships in Varese?
Sincerely, I believe that in a very good one, even though I have to wait and see how I will recover from these three weeks of many hard efforts [in the] Vuelta, which was a very hard one. In spite of the fact that I was no longer fighting for the podium, I gave it all [I had] in the time trial in Navacerrada in order to make a test to know how my shape actually was. I answered hundred percent, which is a very good sign. Personally, I wanted to finish the race because it was very important for me to arrive in Madrid. Many riders gave up the Vuelta a few days before, but I do not think that it will make a difference. A rider like Paolo Bettini for example went home only the day before the time trial. It was a very tough stage, but very short. The energy lost there was already recovered the next day, especially because the last stage was a promenade in the streets of Madrid. I don’t believe that the fact of having finished the Vuelta can harm me.
What will your program be like until Sunday’s race?
My program will be a very light one. I want to recover. Today will be a day of complete rest. Tomorrow I will train about fifty kilometers and the other days between 70 and 80. Thursday, I will travel to Varese together with the other members of the Spanish team who will take part in the road race. We will inspect the course, which I do not know yet. For the moment it is still a mystery to me. Some people told me that it is not hard at all and some others on the contrary that it is a very difficult one. What seems certain is that it is a very fast lap and that it will be necessary to be particularly attentive.
How do you evaluate the Spanish team selected by coach Paco Antequera?
It is indisputably a very strong team, I think strongest of all, even if, as usual, the “squadra azzurra” will also be very strong. And the Italians will undoubtedly be motivated because of them riding in their home country. The force of the Spanish squad is its union because when we wear the same jersey, we forget that we are adversaries in the other races. We proved it at the Olympic Games in Beijing and I hope that we will do the same in Italy, where I will share the leadership [role] with Oscar Freire. If I [feel good], I will try to either join a break or to attack in the final. If it is not the case, or that a big group arrives together, I will launch the sprint so that Oscar can win his fourth World Championships title.
What does your program look like after the World Championships?
There are some beautiful classics left to race, but after the World Championship, and especially after the tough season I have behind me, I hope I will have the possibility of ending the 2008 season by resting a little bit. I deserve it.