The 35-year-old Spaniard has won a lot of races in his career, but and Olympic medal has eluded him in his three attempts. He finished 47th in Athens (2004), 13th in Beijing (08) and 18th in London four years ago, but in Rio he stands his best chance yet of winning.
He has already been named the lead rider of the Spanish national team for the race, where the hilly parcours will suit his style.
“I can do well on the circuit they’ve designed in Rio,” Valverde told El Mundo. “I will do more one-day racing [in 2016] and I’ll see what I can do in the Giro d’Italia and I’ll help Nairo Quintana in the Tour de France, but I’ll be doing those races with Rio in the back of my mind. I’ll be with him [Quintana in the Tour], but I will always be focused on how to be in best shape for the Games.
“I feel very motivated for Rio. It’s my fourth Olympics and it’s got a really good course for me. Of course I’m motivated.”
Many have questioned Valverde's ability to be a true domestique to Quintana at the Tour and it sounds like the Spaniard himself isn't willing to bury himself for the team leader if it means he will be out of shape for the Olympics.
Valverde returns to racing at Challenge Mallorca on January 28, where he was beaten last season by MTN-Qhubeka's Steve Cummings, who triumphed in the Trofeo Adtratx-Mirador d'Es Colomer.
The Movistar rider bounced back the following day, however, to win the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana by nearly 90 seconds from Lotto-Soudal's Tim Wellens.
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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.
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