Valverde now aiming for Vuelta

After breaking his collar-bone as the result of a crash caused by an inadvertent touch of a team-mat

After breaking his collar-bone as the result of a crash caused by an inadvertent touch of a team-mat

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After having his broken collar-bone fastened in a Maastricht hospital on Tuesday, Alejandro Valverde is set to return to Spain today and is likely to have an operation on the broken bone, which will keep him off the bike for two weeks. Unlike Erik Dekker, Fred Rodriguez and Sandy Casar, who were all crash victims of careless fans yesterday, Valverde went down when his front wheel touched the rear wheel of Caisse d'Epargne team-mate Oscar Pereiro when riders in front of them suddenly braked.

"I am really disappointed of course for being so unlucky," said Valverde when leaving the hospital. "Now I am hoping to come back as soon as possible in good shape because I am already hungry to compete again. I am sure my team-mates from Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears will do great things during the Tour. I would have like to share those emotions with them, but it will be for next year!"

Caisse team boss Eusebio Unzue was quickly at the scene of the crash and immediately discovered the worst when Valverde told him: "It's broken, Eusebio, it's broken." Unzue said later: "I could see clearly it was broken because there was a point in his right collar-bone."

While Caisse will now pin their hopes on Pereiro and Russian Vladimir Karpets, Valverde is now turning his thoughts towards September's Tour of Spain, which he was not previously going to start.

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