Spaniard starts Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana on Wednesday – his first multi-day event after crashing out of the TDF – following promising debut in Mallorca.
After putting end to a 208-day period away from racing last week at three of the Challenge Mallorca’s trophies, following his crash on stage one of the Tour de France, Alejandro Valverde will be covering his first stagerace in seven months as he takes the start of the 69th Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, from Wednesday through Sunday. As he moved from Alicante – where the Movistar Team has checked the course of Friday’s team time trial – to Oropesa del Mar for the start of the event, he reflected on the road ahead and behind:
DEBUT IN MALLORCA
“It went really, really well. I was feeling nervous before the first trophy, though. It wasn’t the kind of nervous you’re before the first race of the season in any other previous year, it was different. Everyone who has gone through injuries similar to mine or even more serious will understand what I say. The two trophies after the debut on Friday and Saturday were demanding ones, in cold, wet conditions and over dangerous roads. It was a real stress test on how my knee could do, on how strong my confidence was. Happily, I found myself riding with the strongest on the climbs. I didn’t want to take more risks than needed on the downhill sectoins, though, and that’s why I couldn’t really contest the victories last week. The most important thing for me, though, was to see how I fared, and it went great.”
VALENCIA: HIS FIRST STAGERACE THIS SEASON
“It’s a longer competition, five days, with a team time trial midway through… We’ll really go for it because we feel we’ve got the form it takes to chase good results, but winning the overall will not be an obsession for us. The race contenders should not really be stronger than what Wellens or Moscon showed in Mallorca, but there will be plenty of them, and that changes a lot. While it was down to three or four of us in the hardest parts of the Mallorca races, the group will shrink to maybe 10, 15 riders when it’s time in Valencia.”
“I think the team time trial will really leave its mark on the final outcome. We’ve checked the course several times and I think it’s a dangerous route, especially the second half with lots of turns together – it’s hard for everyone, though. We’ve got a strong, balanced block, but maybe some teams like Sky or BMC have an edge at this moment on squads like ours, since they’ve got pure specialists and they’re also aiming to put their GC riders into good position for Saturday’s finish. The Alto de las Canteras? It’s tough, I like it, but I don’t think it will set really big gaps. I hope to be up there with the top guns at the finish.”
“The support by the fans has been really rewarding and comforting through all this recovery process. I’m so thankful to them for all the cheer I got, also in Mallorca. Lots of people around cycling continue to root for me everywhere I go, especially after all I’ve gone through lately, so I want to say thanks to them all, and let them know I’l continue to work and fight as hard as I did before my injury.”