Spain’s Alejandro Valverde vowed to put his doping worries behind him after winning the 89th edition of the Tour of Catalonia on Sunday.
The 29-year-old Caisse d’Epargne rider was recently banned from competing in Italy for two years by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) after he was implicated in the Operation Puerto doping scandal.
The decision, which Valverde has contested, rules him out of this summer’s Tour de France, the 16th stage of which passes through Italy’s Val D’Aosta region.
“What motivated me most of all was the support I received from the people who are at my side every day – my team, the public, the press – which is supporting me more than ever,” Valverde said.
“I hope that the injustice will stop very soon and that I can start again concentrating only on the races and nothing else.
“I want to dedicate my victory to Juan, my father, who is really touched by what is happening and is currently in hospital,” Valverde said, adding that he would now train at altitude before defending his title in the June 7-14 Dauphine Libéré ProTour race.
On April 1, CONI’s anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri called for Valverde to be suspended for “violating the code of the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA)”.
In February Torri claimed that a blood sample in the bag number 18 taken from the raided laboratory of the infamous doctor Eufemiano Fuentes was that of Valverde.
Valverde subsequently announced on May 6 that he was launching a lawsuit against Torri.
The rider has the backing of the Spanish justice system which has made it clear that it is against any procedure brought by the Italian authorities.
New Zealand’s Greg Henderson won the seventh and final stage of the Tour of Catalonia, a 110km race between Sant Cugat and the motor racing circuit at Montmelo.
© AFP 2009