Speaking at the Movistar press conference ahead of the Giro d'Italia getting underway on Friday, Valverde recognises the limitations of his body in competing at the front of the pack across all 21 stages. As a result, the experienced Spaniard is instead targeting a stage victory, in what will be the 31st Grand Tour appearance of his career.
“I want to have a good race, and for me to finish well would be to achieve a stage victory," Valverde said. "The general classification is very difficult because of my age and the three weeks of competition."
In fact, Valverde recognises the opening day from Budapest to Visegrád, a 195km flat route which finishes with a 5km hill at a five per cent gradient, could provide a potential opportunity for him to achieve his goal.
“The first stage is demanding, but in itself doable for sprinters. Everyone appears strong at the start, Van der Poel is doing well. But we still have 20 stages to win after this.”
Despite having competed in 30 Grand Tours so far during his career, the 2022 Giro d'Italia will be just the second time Valverde has competed in the event. The Movistar rider featured in the race back in 2016, where he finished third overall after winning the 16th stage.
“For me it was important to do the Giro," Valverde explained. "I've only competed once in my entire career, so in my last year I wanted to come back.
“The Giro is a race that is not as demanding on the head as the Tour de France. I’m sure this is my last year, I’m not going on. Not because I don’t want to, but because it’s unnecessary.”
During the pre-race press conference, Valverde also clarified he won't lead the Movistar team, perhaps giving reason to his goal of winning a stage. Instead, that responsibility lies with Colombian rider Iván Sosa.
Sosa recently won the Vuelta a Asturias, the same event Richard Carapaz won in 2019 before triumphing in the Giro d'Italia while riding for Movistar. Valverde referred to this as he spoke confidently about his team-mate producing a strong result.
“I would really like Sosa to be on the final podium," Valverde said. "He is motivated by the Asturias title. The last rider that won Asturias and then won the Giro was Carapaz, I hope the same thing happens with Sosa. But if he is on the podium, we will be happy with that.
“Although he hasn’t done much racing in three weeks, we have to start letting him go and giving him races so that he can gain experience. Now we have to wait how he goes and that he doesn’t lose time.”
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