Alejandro Valverde will be lining up in the Tour de France for the tenth time in his career next week, twelve years after his maiden appearance in 2005 and he has stated that he will going to the race to support Movistar team leader Nairo Quintana.
Valverde has taken four Tour stages to his account – Peyragudes in 2012, Plumelec and Super-Besse in 2008 and at Courchevel in 2005 in addition to two days in yellow and four consecutive top-8 GC finishes since 2013.
“I feel like I’m tackling it in great form, hopefully strong enough to be by Nairo’s side and help my team-mates as much as possible,” said Valverde. “My goal is clear and certain, and I’ve stated it many times: supporting him, nothing else. We’ll be backing Nairo 100%.
“Anything that happens after that on the road is something we can’t really plan on. Obviously, I can’t lose much time on the GC because it serves our team’s strategic interest. If things go right and we both remain up there in the overall standings, our rivals will have to take precautions against both of us – which might turn out to be good for the team.
“I really respect the Tour, but I don’t have any fear to it anymore. I’ve really got hold of how it works during the last few years. I’m not only excited about riding it, but also certain about what I can do for the team – just as much as my team-mates are.
Quintana hasn’t raced since the Giro where he finished 2nd behind Tom Dumoulin and has just focused on training in the intervening period.
“I see Nairo very focused on the task,” said Valverde. “He’s training well, he’s keeping his mind fresh, and even though it’s true he’s tackling the Giro-Tour double for the first time, he’s always done better at the second Grand Tour in the past when he took on the Tour-Vuelta one. I don’t feel like it should be a problem for him.”