Valenciana target Tour and ProTourClose
Now without Kelme and a guaranteed place at the biggest races, the Comunitat Valenciana team is hopiPICTURE BY TDWSPORT.COM The Comunitat Valenciana team was launched in its home region on Monday with the team management and leaders adamant that what was previously the Kelme team could regain its long-standing status at the top level of the sport. As a result of the Jesus Manzano affair, in which the Kelme team was accused of systematic doping, and concurrent budgetary problems, the team was not accepted into the ProTour, and is competing at Continental level this season. The squad has also been hit by the loss of totemic team leader Alejandro Valverde, who has moved on to Illes Balears. But team boss Jos Luis Aznar insists that the team can still contribute much to the sport and has a big future ahead of it. "We want to be talked about strictly for our sporting achievements and, based on those, to be able to ask for a ProTour licence next year, and I feel we deserve it based on merit and tradition," he told AS. Aznar said he was happy to retain Vicente Belda as team manager despite allegations made by Manzano against him, and insisted that no comparison can be made with the overhaul in the management structures at scandal-hit Cofidis and Phonak teams. "We haven't had a single ride test positive," said Aznar. "I have full confidence in the work undertaken by Vicente Belda." Aznar revealed that there is still a chance of the Kelme name appearing on the jersey this season, as discussions about co-sponsorship are taking place with the shoe manufacturer. However, he described the chances of Kelme staying with the team as "remote". Belda, speaking in typically bullish fashion, said at the presentation that he would be hugely annoyed if the team did not gain selection for the Tour de France, saying "there are few teams in the world with our potential". Referring to Valverde, he commented: "Many important riders have left this team in other seasons and it hasn't really affected us." Belda selected 2001 Vuelta winner Angel Casero, former Spanish champion Ruben Plaza and new signing David Bernabeu as the riders who will carry the team forwards this season. Casero was one of a large group of riders who didn't appear in CV-Kelme colours last season because of those financial problems. Having toyed with the idea of going into team management, the 32 year old is determined to make up for lost time. "I hope that in a month or two I will be in good condition," he said. "What I am really hoping for is to be able to ride the Vuelta and attempt to regain that title."