“All mountains left in this Vuelta”
03 September 2013

Alejandro Valverde / Press conference

Optimistic Alejandro Valverde analyses ten opening days in the Spanish grandtour as well as the eleven still to cover, with special attention on the Pyrenean stages, "the three hardest days in the race"

Alejandro Valverde inspected this morning the trascendental individual time trial stage eleven of the 2013 Vuelta a España in Tarazona during the first rest day of the race. Satisfied with the 39km parcours he found in Aragón, the Movistar Team’s leader analysed in a crowded press conference his feelings on the first part of the Vuelta -currently sitting in 4th overall, one minute behind leader Chris Horner (RLT)- and the eleven days still to come before the march into Madrid on Sunday 15th. These were some of his impressions: 

Overview on the first ten days
“We’re happy to be where we are right now. I don’t feel tired at all: I’m still finding myself strong and the standings show we’re right into the fight. I’m a bit surprised with the strength Horner has shown, though. Neither I nor any of my rivals were counting on such a demonstration as yesterday’s. There are some talented riders here – Basso, Purito or myself are all in great form, and we couldn’t follow him yesterday. We weren’t expecting him on putting a minute on us, but we knew he was strong. We could all see it on the first stage he won and he proved it again yesterday. He pedals easy, not nervous at all, and he didn’t offer any signs of weakness yet. Still we don’t know how far he can get, should he improve or decrease. All pressure will be one him: even though he seems to be enjoying life right know, he’ll be suffering it more and more. We have to be satisfied with what we got until this point: we’re into GC contention, this last stage was the first real hard day in the race and there’s almost everything to be played in the race.”

The rivals
“No: leaving Horner aside, all the guys which were at the front yesterday were really close to each other. It’s true that Nibali took a bit of an advantage, but wasn’t superior to us at all. He jumped away, made a bit of a gap and kept his own pace, while we were attacking and stopping all the time – that’s why he gained some time, but I felt like we were all really equal. The thing is – we all are paying much attention to our rivals, because we all are candidates to win the Vuelta.”

Wednesday’s ITT
“Despite being a time trial, I don’t think it’s bad for me at all. We could recon it this morning and the first 20k are really tough. There are four of five k’s of flat, then a 2k slope, and after that there’s the real climb – 10 kilometer, in open roads, much headwind, with no really steep sections, but some complicated ones about 5-6%. The gaps will be made there. After cresting, a fast descent, some flat and another 4k downhill before entering Tarazona. Except for the first 20, 22 kilometers – it will be pretty fast. The second time trial in the Tour was more demanding: that was two climbs, two descents and no flat, while we have lots of open air here, as well as long straights. Should I have a good day there, I don’t think there will be huge gaps – I could even end up fighting with the top guys. I won’t put any time gaps on this – there could be surprises.”

Upcoming stages 
“To me, the three Pyrenean stage are the hardest in this year’s Vuelta. The first one, with the mountian-top finish in La Gallina and the climbs prior to it, is really hard, while the second one has 230km on the official route plus a 20k neutral zone – 250km in total, with one-hour-long climbs and such a difficult final, which I know since I won there in the 2012 Tour. Any of the three Pyrenees stages, as well as the other three in Cantabria and Asturias, could make you gain time or lost it all. There’s much strategy on the table: we can play the waiting card, so one rival or the other bonk, or attack at some climb where we think we can make some hurt. Anything can happen.”

Fernando Alonso enters cycling
“When I was told about it through the radio yesterday, I almost went crazy about it. I can only take my hat off to him and congratulate him for his choice. Losing a team like Euskaltel was really painful. We know he likes our sport much – he rides a lot, but taking such a strong gamble is another thing, something really special and good for cycling. Let’s hope this helps so other brands follow his path. That’s a great gesture from him.”