Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) has said he would rather win Olympic gold than the Tour de France.
After revealing he plans to retire after the 2021 season, this would mean the Spaniard will target the 2020 Olympic road race in Tokyo, if he is to realise this dream.
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Speaking in an interview with the Spanish version of Esquire, Valverde, who has won the Vuelta a España (2009), multiple editions of Liège-Bastogne-Lìege, as well as the road world championships last year in Innsbruck, was asked to choose between two honours missing from his glittering palmarès, the Tour de France or an Olympic gold.
“To this day, the Olympic gold, without a doubt,” the Spaniard said, “I have raced the Tour many times, I have won stages, I climbed to the podium in 2015 after a whole race fighting to do well there. I feel that in France I have given everything.”
It is for his neighbouring home nation of Spain, that the 39-year-old would now like to deliver victory. “The Olympic Games are something else,” he said. “Being able to represent Spain for the fifth time in a test like that gives me real pride. And doing it knowing that you also have options to aspire for victory or a medal is a very, very special motivation.”
Despite Spanish sport daily Marca reporting that Valverde would ride this year’s Tour de France and Vuelta a España, after he missed out on the 2019 Giro d’Italia following a training ride crash on his birthday, Valverde says he doesn’t yet know whether he will ride the Tour in July.
“It is true that my absence in the Giro has changed my plans for the season a bit,” he said. “By not competing in May, it opens the door to a calendar closer to what we have done in other years. But before I know if I will be in the Tour, I want to recover good feelings and know that everything is in place.”
His cautiousness is also reflected in his personal expectations for the rest of the 2019 season, saying: “I need to recover the confidence and the good feelings that I have lost this spring.”
Therefore, when asked about Movistar’s ambitions for the rest of the year, he states that of course the team will target the overall victory at both the Tour de France and Vuelta a España, with Mikel Landa and Nairo Quintana likely to be leading the line.
This could hint at Movistar discontinuing the three-pronged triumvirate of GC contenders that the Spanish team have failed to pull off in recent editions of the Tour, perhaps splitting up Quintana and Landa for an individual tilt at each race.
Movistar have just returned from riding a tactically astute Giro d’Italia, where Richard Carapaz won his first ever Grand Tour and Mikel Landa narrowly missed out on a podium place.