Valverde: I can win a major tour

Although understandably disappointed to have fallen just short of a first major tour victory, Alejan

Although understandably disappointed to have fallen just short of a first major tour victory, Alejan

PIC BY LAVUELTA.COM

Although Alejandro Valverde left Madrid on Sunday a fairly disappointed man after finishing a close second to Alexandre Vinokourov at the Vuelta, Spain's ProTour leader was trying to focus on the up side of the experience, believing he showed many positive aspects to his riding over the three weeks. "I know that I rode a great Vuelta," the Caisse d'Epargne rider told Marca on Monday before he headed off to lead Spain's challenge at the Worlds.

"The Vuelta had a positive balance for me because I came out of it feeling strong and after doing a very good final time trial. So I'm happy with the way I finished, the problem was that Vinokourov was simply better than me, but it was good experience for the future," said Valverde.

This was the 26 year old's second podium finish at the Vuelta, after he took third place in 2003. "I've learned a lot. I had never been the leader of a major tour before and I now know what that's all about. But the main thing is that now I know that I can keep my best form for three weeks of racing. I've gained in maturity and experience. I didn't have any bad days and performed really well in the time trials. This Vuelta didn't seem as hard as the others I've ridden," he explained.

Valverde believes he can now challenge for the podium of the Tour de France, which will undoubtedly be his main target next season. "You have to give the Tour a lot of respect, but I think the podium at least is possible. It is not easy to finish on the podium of the Vuelta, but I've done it twice, and I think 'Vino' would have been a frontrunner at the Tour if he'd been there."

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