Valverde moving closer to Illes Balears, accident ends Zabel's season prematurely, 2005 Giro to starPICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Marca and AS, Spain's leading sports papers, are both claiming this morning that Alejandro Valverde is leaning towards signing for Illes Balears. However, the problem for any deal between both parties remains the two million euro fee that would have to be paid to get Valverde out of his current contract with CV-Kelme. According to Marca, Liberty Seguros are definitely out of the running, but Illes Balears remain keen because they need someone to replace the team-leading hole left by Denis Menchov's departure to Rabobank. Reports suggest that Illes Balears are prepared to pay a significant proportion of the two million euro contract rescission clause, but not all of it. Illes Balears have been in contact with Vuelta runner-up Santi Perez, but the Asturian is likely to stay with Phonak after they lost Oscar Sevilla to T-Mobile and suspended Tyler Hamilton after his positive test for blood doping at the Vuelta. * Erik Zabel's hopes of defending his Paris-Tours title this coming weekend have been dashed after the T-Mobile sprinter broke his left heel when he fell from a ladder at his home in Unna, Germany. "That puts an end to my season. It is annoying: I was in good form and well prepared for the Paris-Tours World Cup race," said Zabel. Just last Sunday the 34-year-old sprinted his way to the silver medal at the World Championships road race in Verona. Doctors at the University Clinic in Freiberg are currently examining x-rays of Zabel's foot to decide whether or not to operate and how long the evergreen sprinter needs to rest up before returning to training. * The 88th edition of the Giro d'Italia will start with a prologue of just 1,200 metres in Reggio Calabria on Saturday, May 7 next year. The extremely short time trial will take place on the sea front of the southern Italian town. The following day's opening road stage will start in Reggio Calabria and finish in the coastal town of Tropea. Monday's second road stage is set to start in Catanzaro and head north towards a finish on the Tirreno coast.