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The Spaniard will follow a schedule that is almost identical to this year's and will again focus on the Ardennes classics, the Tour de France, the Vuelta a Espana and the World Championships

Photo: Sirotti

ALEJANDRO VALVERDE

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19.12.2013 @ 18:02 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Following months of speculation about the Movistar captains at the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France, a decision has been made. Alejandro Valverde has confirmed his race schedule and will again make the Tour de France the centrepiece of his season, with the Ardennes classics, the Vuelta a Espana and the World Championships being additional goals.

 

Since Nairo Quintana stepped down from the Tour de France podium, few topics have been more heavily discussed than the Movistar captains in the 2014 grand tours. With Quintana and Alejandro Valverde both being genuine podium candidates in the three-week races, the team has spent a lot of time discussing how to distribute the races between their two major stars.

 

Manager Eusebio Unzue had already indicated that he was moving towards a decision that would see Quintana spearhead the team in the Giro and Valverde leading the team in the Tour, with the duo combining forces at the Vuelta a Espana. That plan appears now to have been confirmed as Valverde announced his race schedule for the coming season at the awards ceremony for the 2013 WorldTour where he was 3rd overall on the individual rankings and part of the Movistar squad that won the teams prize.

 

Valverde's schedule will be almost identical to the one he had in 2013 where he tried to limit his racing in the early part of the season to stay fresh for a heavy second part that contained the Tour de France, the Vuelta a Espana and the World Championships. This will again be the recipe in 2014 when he will kick off his season on home soil in the Challenge Mallorca where he won one of the races in 2013.

 

Next he will line up in the Vuelta a Andalucia where he will defend his overall win. Next up will be the sprinter-friendly Clasica de Almeria which is a new addition to his schedule, and his home race, the Vuelta a Murcia where he was 3rd in 2013. The final races in first block will be the Strade Bianche and Roma Maxima in Italy where he had little success in 2013.

 

The next part of Valverde's season will be altered compared to 2013. Instead of doing the Volta a Catalunya - where he has had bad luck two years in a row - and the one-day races GP Miguel Indurain and the Vuelta a la Rioja, he will return to the Vuelta al Pais Vasco for the first time since finishing 2nd behind Chris Horner after a very close battle (he was later disqualified from the result due to his involvement in the Operacion Puerto). That race will be his final preparation for the Ardennes classics where he hopes to add to his palmares that already includes two wins in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and one in the Fleche Wallonne.

 

Unlike this year, Valverde will skip the Tour de Romandie and will race again at the Criterium du Dauphiné which he has won twice in the past. Then it will be on to the Tour de France where he hopes to have more luck after losing all podium hopes due to a mechanical in 2013.

 

The Clasica San Sebastian will be his only race in between the Tour and the Vuelta and he hopes to improve his 2nd place from 2013. In the Vuelta, he hopes to do better than the 3rd place he took this year and would love to repeat his 2009 win in the race. His final big goal of the season will be the World Championships on home soil in Ponferrada where he hopes to finally take the rainbow jersey after taking 5 medals in the past.

 

Valverde only won four races in 2013: the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana and two stages and the overall at the Vuelta a Andalucia.

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