Valverde confident, excited about TdF challenge

4 July 2014
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Pre-race press conference

Movistar Team leader catches attention alongside Eusebio Unzué in double appointment at O2’s Leeds office, hours before the 2014 Tour de France starts

Two events gathered protagonism from the Movistar Team in the evening prior to the start of the 101st Tour de France in Leeds tomorrow. The O2 office in the outskirts of Yorkshire’s biggest city hosted a chat with VIPs and Telefónica’s UK brand employees with four of its riders -Alex Dowsett, present as local despite not making the nine-man roster; Giovanni Visconti, Beñat Intxausti y John Gadret-, while the Spanish media attended an event featuring Eusebio Unzué and the Blues’ GC leader Alejandro Valverde.

We’re bringing here a leader with a chance to win the race and we surrounded him with the best riders we had – it’s a matter of bringing the best squad to the best race,” were the words by Unzué around the group that will help out Valverde, who expressed himself confident about his possibilities. “I dreamt many times about reaching Paris in yellow,” he said, “but the most important thing and the one I aspire to this season is a podium place. I feel strong, in good condition, and the route suits me perfectly. Though I don’t feel like I have a thorn on my side after much bad luck in the Tour, the only thing I ask this race for is not having any more; I’ll give my best to fulfil the task.”

Stage two is difficult, and should we find rain, it’ll be even harder,” explained Valverde, who started an overview on the Grande Boucle‘s parcours this year. “During the following stages through England, there will be lots of narrow sections, ups and downs, and we must pay full attention. Back in France, we will have the cobblestones on day five, which we might consider as the real start of the Tour; that stage will put everyone on its right pace and we’ll have to stay attentive against any crashes. Things will clear up more in the Vosges, where we will see how everyone got to this race form-wise; still, all stages coming before that will be important.

The Pyrenees will be the hardest of the mountain blocks, with three important stages, but we have to stay focused every day – you can lose the race anywhere,” Alejandro summed up, keeping his mind on two names when asked about the main favourites: “Looking at their performances throughout the season, I feel like Alberto Contador has done better and proved more secure about his capabilities. For me, he’s more of a favourite than Froome.

Picture (c): Sergi López-Egea