Following his second overall triumph in last week’s Volta a Catalunya, Alejandro Valverde will tackle his final stagerace before the spring’s big goal in the Ardennes classics at the 57th Vuelta al País Vasco, starting Monday.
The 36-year-old Spaniard will head an eight-man Movistar Team that includes two of the squad’s Basque members, Gorka Izagirre and Víctor de la Parte. The Spanish outfit’s lineup is completed by Rory Sutherland, José Herrada, Rubén Fernández, Antonio Pedrero and Dani Moreno.
“I love the race, and it means a lot to me, but I’ve been close to winning — second, third, stage wins — but the overall escaped me so far,” Valverde said. “This year I come to the race motivated, excited, and with great form.”
The Basque stagerace will offer a balanced route that features both sprinters’ courses -on stages one (Sarriguren, Monday 3) and two (Elciego, Tuesday 4)-, rolling routes -finishing at picturesque capitals San Sebastián (Wednesday 5) and Bilbao (Thursday 6)- and mountain climbs on Friday 7 (a mountain-top finish in Arrate / Usartza) and Saturday 8, a 27km ITT defining the GC of the event in Eibar.
“It will be hard to win because there are a lot of good riders, especially Contador, who’s won many times,” Valverde said. “The idea is to go to the race with the idea of winning, and the road will quickly put everyone in their place.”