Tag Archives: Alejandro Valverde

Liege preview

Liege Bastongne Liege closes out the 2009 Spring Classics. The lightweight climber types will look to avenge the spanking delt by veteran Davide Rebellin at Fleche Wallone. Liege does not finish with a long steep climb like Amstel and Fleche so the finish is not as critical. The key will be to whittle down the lead group on the numerous climbs leading into Liege. Sprinters such as Valverde and Cunego will have an upper hand if they make it through with a lead group. Here is last year’s finish with Valverde taking the win.


Michele Bartoli’s win in 1997 as he outlasts Jalabert.

Ricco strikes again as favorites wait for Hautcam


JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Riccardo Ricco flash visions of Marco Pantani with the vicious atacks up the Col D’Aspin to claim his second stage win of the Tour. Ricco’s attack came up the final climb but before several kilometers of downhill. The main favorites in the select bunch that was left behind seemed to halt their attacks for the day once Ricco was off deciding to save their energy for the tough day to Hautcam tomorrow.

Team Columbia let the reigns of pace-making go to Euskatel Euskadi for most of the race and Caisse D’Epargne showed that they are the strongest team in the race by controlling the pace when things got dicey. Lampre also took up the chase at times, either to help control things for Cunego or limit the gains of another Italian Ricco. Vincenzo Nibali showed some strength with a follow up attack to Ricco that did not gain much time but put folks on notice to watch the young Sicilian.


JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Both of the two main favorites Alejandro Valverde and Cadel Evans had mediocre days. Valverde looked like he could be in trouble at times, but may have been taking things easy by resting for tomorrows tough stage. Valverde is still nursing inuries from a fall a few days ago. Cadel Evans hit the deck and paid a visit to the rolling doctor with some nasty looking bruises.

Ricco Strikes in Stage Six


PASCAL PAVANI/AFP/Getty Images

Riccardo Ricco put his stamp on the Tour with a nice win st Super Besse during stage 6. With the help of Leonardo Piepoli who joined an attack by Christian Vande Velde with 5km to go in the stage Ricco was able to take advantage of a counter attack.

Alejandro Valverde showed that he is the man to beat in the Tour with a strong second place and a very strong Caisse D’ Epargne team. Black jerseys were ever present and former Tour winnder Oscar Periero help push the pace of the group in the final kms. Valverde did not have enough speed in the end to get around the hard charging Ricco who is riding his first Tour de France.

Kim Kirchen gets the Yellow Jersey helped slightly by an unfortunate touch of wheels with Stefan Schumacher. Schumi hit the deck, but did not get any forgiveness for time since the stage finished on an uphill. Team Columbia gladly takes the Yellow Jersey from Schumi and Gerolsteiner. The Yellow today and a stage win yesterday by Mark Cavendish are giving the new sponsor some nice exposure making Columbia happy to sign on just in time for the Tour.

Garmin-Chipotle got some exposure today as Christian Vande Velde’s attack put him up to fourth place only 44 seconds behind Kim Kirchen with some more medium difficulty stages to come. This year’s Tour is very unpredictable so the final result is anyone’s guess.

Valverde Takes First Stage and Yellow


(AFP/Pascal Pavani)

Alejandro Valverde wasted no time in taking the Yellow Jersey during the Tour de France’s first stage today. The Tour started with a road stage for the first time since 1967. The very open Giro like Tour featured a tough final kilometer that brought all of the main contenders to the front and left the sprinters behind. The first road stage without a Yellow Jersey was not as nervous or crash filled as usual. Mauricio Soler was the only major victim of the carnage as he lost about two minutes to Valverde after a crash. Most of the peloton finished with the same time.

Riccardo Ricco was in fifth place today showing he has some good form to at least contend the numerous middle difficulty stages that dot the Tour route this year. Cadel Evans was up near the front more than likely shadowing Valverde so as not to give up too much time.

The final kilometer was as action packed as a finish of Amstel Gold race with the tough finish. Kim Kirchen took advantage of a Team Columbia leadup that featured Adam Hansen pushing 800 watts at the front of the peloton to get his teammate into position. Kirchen’s move had a glimmer of hope until Valverde rocketed up to Kirchen’s back wheel. Valverde took a moment and then sligshot his way to the front leaving a sizable gap to second place Phillipe Gilbert.

Now that Valverde has the Yellow, the question is will the team defend it, and if so for how long. Valverde may be riding a peak form right now, but the final week features some brutal climbing, can Valverde keep it up to the end?

Valverde Gets His Second Leige Win

DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

Alejandro Valverde now has two Liege-Bastonge-Liege wins in his pocket. The Spanish climbing-sprinting sensation looks to be on track to be a contender in the Tour once again. Though he admitted that his form was not as good as in 2006 when he took his last win at Liege, he was able to use his sprinting ability and smarts to beat Frank Schleck and David Rebellin.

The Schleck brothers seemed to have the race to themselves. When the decisive breaks happened on the new climb of Falcon’s Rock 20kms from the finish the number favored the brothers from Luxembourg. The group of five that formed contained two the CSC brothers, David Rebellin and two Caisse D’Epargne’s (Valverde and Rodriguez). Rebellin was odd man out until Rodriguez could no longer keep pace. Andy Schleck launched an attack that everyone knew was a setup for brother Frank. Trouble is that once Andy was caught by a very attentive Rebellin, Brother Frank could not shake off two tough sprinters Valverde and Rebellin. As the break of three cruised to the end it was only a matter of ceremony for Valverde to take the top spot.

Too bad for Schleck, he came so close to wins and was beat out by little guys who can sprint. Last week in Amstel, Cunego came out from behind to beat Schleck in somewhat of a surprise. While this time he could not use his numbers to shake off Valverde before the sprint.

Meanwhile it looks like Valverde wasn’t even going to try for the win.

“I knew if I could make it to the sprint, I’d have my best chance against these two,” Valverde said. “This win means a lot because the spring classics weren’t even a goal this year. I came here with a lot of motivation to race because my goals come later in the season with the Tour and the Olympics.” — velonews.com

So Valverde was not intending to win? But won anyway? This guys must be on drugs… queue the Operation Puerto questions…

Inevitably, Valverde was questioned about his alleged links to Operación Puerto, but he said he’s racing with a clear conscience. Some believe Valverde is linked to the Spanish doping scandal, but he’s never been officially implicated.

“My link to Puerto only comes from the media. No judge or evidence has ever suggested that I had anything to do with it,” said Valverde. “I’m not worried about the Italian authorities. If they want to question me when the Tour goes to Italy, let them. No problem.”
–velonews.com

BTW, did you hear that Basso signed with Liquigas? WTF?

The more things change the more they stay the same. I thought we were moving on from the Operation Puerto stories and in one quick swipe we get two OP related stories in the headlines. Cycling cannot catch a break. Even as the exciting Liege-Bastongne-Liege race wraps up a drug scandal free spring season it all comes back just in time for the start of a major Grand Tour.

TT Surprises All Around

FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Wow the Albi TT was nothing but surprises all around.

Rasmussen does not meltdown or lose time. In fact he catches and passes his three minute man Alejandro Valverde.

Alejandro Valverde put in a time around Alessandro Ballan’s whoo must have been riding simply to get through the TT and hunt for stage wins in transitional stages. Valverde stunk up the road.

Fabian Cancellara crashes and does not win.

Lots of racers crash incluing Kloden, Gusev and others.

Vino crushes everyone to put in a memorable performance to come back in the contention for a breif time.

Levi Leipheimer does alright.

Alberto Contador is a contender for the Yellow Jersey possibly.

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Soler Solos While Vino Loses Ground

FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Alexandre Vinokourov’s charge for the Mailliot Jaune could be a lost cause for 2007. Vino could not hold the pace of the top contenders and finds himself several minutes behind. Vino has been battling injuries and the pain showed today as he was riding with the group of second flight contenders and came in over 2 minutes behind current Yellow Jersey Michael Rasmussen. The pain and devastation showed as Vino burst into tears realizing that the dream of winning the Tour is out of reach. Vino’s performances at the Tour have always been on extremes. In the past he would blister the field attacking at the most unexpected moments gaining time while competitors were sleeping. Remember that famous crash of Beloki and Armstrong in 2003? They were chasing Vino who was blitzing the field. Then he would follow tose performances with almost legendary time losses. Vino was not able to string together enough good days and luck to be a overall winner.

FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Mauricio Soler gave Barloworld some great press today. The Columbian climber from the wildcard team did not have any major wins in his palmares. Just a stage at the Tour of Columbia. His solo effort up the Galibier and into Briancon was
impressive as he held off a hard charging group that swelled with most of the major contenders for the Tour.

Soler’s Barloworld team gave the ASO plenty to be happy about in the Tour so far. They’ve had several racers in breaks during the first week and now a stage win.

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Rasmussen in Yellow and Dots, Bad Day for Aussies, Disco Decay

FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images
FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

Michael Rasmussen took the initiative in what is seen as an annual break to gain the Polka Dot climbers jersey. The difference this year is that he was also able to snatch the Yellow Jersey. The wiry Dane dominated an early breakaway with Michael Rogers. It looked like Rogers would take over the Yellow Jersey from his young teammate Linus Gerdemann. Rogers at that point was the team leader for T-Mobile and he took an early opportunity to flex his muscles and make a claim for the Yellow. But cycling is a ver unforgiving sport. Going down the Col de Roseland descent Rogers crashed with breakaway companion David Arroyo of Caisse D’Epargne. Arroyo went over the guard rail and into the trees while Rogers crashed on the road. Arroyo looked OK, but Rogers never recovered and had to retire from the race.

AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski
AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski

On a similar descent Stuart O’Grady crashed hard and had to be taken to hospital where it was determined that he had cracked ribs but no spinal damage. Robbie McEwen came in outside the time limit and was eliminated. Any remaining Aussies in the race should count their lucky stars. The elimination happened in threes so other Aussies should theoretically be OK to keep riding.

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Valverde To Stay With Caisse D’Epargne

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Looks like Alejandro Valverde will not be donning a magenta jersey after all. Now for my Stephan Colbert moment: Just as I predicted earlier, the Valverde move to T-Mobile was not going to happen. Team manager Eusebio Unzué was able to press the sponsors to extend deals or put in more money. There was enough to give the Green Bullet a solid home for the next four years at more than 9 million dollars (according to cyclingnews.com). That is very close to the rumored T-Mobile deal.

Details of the deal have to be finalized but the Caisse D’Epargne team presentation next week will definitely feature Valverde.

Valverde to decide on future soon

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The on-again off again, confirmed but not confirmed move to T-Mobile is not a dead deal yet. The story keeps being denied, but then fresh reports come back to show that there just may be a link between Alejandro Valverde moving to T-Mobile for a price of $10 million Euros for the next three years. This would make the Green Bullet the highest paid professional cyclist in the Pro Peloton.

Caisse D’Epargne-Illes Balears has been reported to be in a tight situation regarding sponsorship cash. A nice $2 Million Euro buyout may help keep the team afloat. T-Mobile needs a guaranteed rising star since they put all their effort behind Michael Rogers who may or may not pan out as a stage racer.

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