Valverde prepared for attacks

Having started the Vuelta as one of the favourites, Alejandro Valverde faces a crucial stage today f

Having started the Vuelta as one of the favourites, Alejandro Valverde faces a crucial stage today f
PICTURE BY LAVUELTA.COM Although unable to train on Wednesday's rest day, Alejandro Valverde has started today's 12th stage of the Vuelta to the Calar Alto observatory in the mountains high above Almeria following his bad crash in Tuesday's stage to Caravaca. Having initially feared he would not finish that stage across his home province, Valverde has since been talking about his hopes of winning his home tour, although he admits his rivals are bound to want to try to eliminate him from overall contention on today's summit finish. Describing Tuesday's fall of as "worst of my career", Valverde told AS "I did think of abandoning after the crash but when I calmed down I analysed the situation and decided to try to work through the physical problems I have, which do seem to be improving." His left knee is troubling him most out of all of his injuries, but the fact that he suffered more cuts than bruising seems to have helped, at least in terms of getting two restful nights' sleep. Unlike all of his rivals, Valverde was unable to check over today's finish or get a final look at Sunday's time trial course up the Sierra Nevada above Granada. However, the 24-year-old CV-Kelme team leader and his team-mates have ridden up the mountain before during the first edition of the ciclotourist event honouring Costa de Almeria team boss Juan Martinez Oliver, who has said that today's stage will have a major impact on the overall standings. "This is a day where I was planning to try to gain time on my rivals, but all I can do now is try to defend myself. I understand that my rivals will all be trying to eliminate me," said Valverde. "My morale has been raised by all the support that I have received on all sides. I feel obliged to give it all I've got." * Costa de Almeria team manager Miguel Moreno has said he is going to sue his rider Pedro Diaz Lobato following comments the former Relax rider made on Spanish radio two days ago. Diaz Lobato said that he had been left out of the Costa de Almeria team for the Vuelta because he had spoken to the press in the wake of Jesus Manzano's allegations of doping in the Spanish peloton, and also suggested that Moreno and Relax's team management were part of a mafia that treats riders like slaves. "I have left the matter in the hands of my lawyers," said Moreno. "He's only ridden a few races and only finished the GP Villafranca and the Vuelta a los Puertos, where he finished outside the time limit. I asked him to ride in the Tour of Burgos in order to clear up any doubts before the Vuelta but he didn't want to."
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