Valverde going to Tour to learn

Rising Spanish star Alejandro Valverde says he is heading for the Tour de France this coming season,

Rising Spanish star Alejandro Valverde says he is heading for the Tour de France this coming season,
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE On the final day of his highly successful period at CV-Kelme, Alejandro Valverde has told AS that, despite more than a dozen wins this year, the 2005 season will be primarily a learning process as he joins the ProTour with Illes Balears and heads for his debut at the Tour de France. Describing the past season as being "between good and very good," Valverde won the overall titles at the Tours of Valencia and Murcia early in the year and took fourth place at the Vuelta at the end of it. Helping Spanish team-mate Oscar Freire to the world title in Verona was another high point for the 24 year old. His only down point, he said, was his failure to make an impact at the Olympics. "The Games were the down point of the season. The heat got to me and I was affected by dehydration and the lack of training for that race," said Valverde. Despite missing out on a second consecutive podium finish at the Vuelta, the Murcian rider expressed his happiness with that performance bearing in mind the bad crash he suffered at the race's mid-point. And for the future? "A lot of things will change. Cycling has changed with the introduction of the ProTour and I had to ride for a team that was in it. Illes Balears gave me the chance and were the team I wanted to go to the most. The management have told me to go to the Tour to learn, and that there will be no pressure on me there this year. But in the future both they and I want me to be challenging for the overall title. They are the only Spanish team to have won the Tour with Perico Delgado and Miguel Indurain and I think they know exactly what each individual rider can achieve there." Valverde said that he had been told by several of his new team-mates that the Tour is a very different race to any other and believes that he is probably two or three years away from being competitive there. However, he didn't totally discount winning the sport's biggest event the first time out. "It is possible to go there and win it, but I don't think that will be the case for me. Some riders have done it in their first year, although admittedly not many. I will go there without any pressure and we will see what happens."
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