Pereiro and Valverde to co-lead at Vuelta

Caisse d'Epargne are set to go into next weekend's Vuelta with a formidable twin strike force of Ard

Caisse d'Epargne are set to go into next weekend's Vuelta with a formidable twin strike force of Ard

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The Caisse d'Epargne team find themselves with an embarrassment of riches going into the Vuelta a Espa¤a on August 26. Not only will they be able to count on returning team leader Alejandro Valverde to offer a potent threat, but they are also set to field Tour de France runner-up Oscar Pereiro as the team's co-leader.

Speaking at a press conference in Majorca on Thursday, Pereiro said he was looking forward to heading his team's challenge, but admitted he would not be able to count on the element of surprise that saw him catapulted into contention at the Tour and might yet see him declared the race's winner if Floyd Landis is stripped of the title for doping.

"We have a fantastic team for the Vuelta, but I will no longer have the benefit of the element of surprise," said Pereiro. "When the others see me a minute or two in front the alarm bells will start ringing and I don't like that as I prefer to try to catch people off guard."

Pereiro confessed he and his team were "delighted with second place" at the Tour, but have put any celebrations of that finish on hold until after the Vuelta. "It shouldn't take much for everything to be confirmed and for victory to be ours," he said of the possible sanction against Landis.

Valverde, who is coming back to form after suffering a collarbone break at the Tour said he is ready to "arrive at the Vuelta in good form thanks to the hard work of the doctors. Caisse d'Epargne will start as the favourites and we will have to concentrate and keep our feet on the ground knowing that anyone can win an event like this."

Their team manager, Eusebio Unzue, confirmed that "Valverde and Pereiro will share the leadership at the Vuelta. We are lucky enough to be able to count on two options, which sometimes seems like a problem but usually ends up being just the opposite. We have two leaders who know that sharing responsibility in their profession where there is always a fair degree of risk. They will each be at the other's disposal, and it will be the road or the surprises that cycling always brings that decides our strategy."

At the event held in the home of the Illes Balears regional government, which is the team's main sub-sponsor, it was also announced that Illes Balears is hoping to maintain its cooperation until May next year, when elections are scheduled.

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