Alejandro Valverde to T-Mobile? It could have happened, according to the weekend papers. Jeff Jones
PIC BY LAVUELTA.COM It could have been one of the biggest transfers of the season: ProTour winner Alejandro Valverde switching from Caisse d’Epargne to T-Mobile for a reported €3 million per year. Dutch paper De Telegraaf reported on it over the weekend, which both T-Mobile and Caisse d’Epargne denied. But it wasn’t just a rumour, according to Procycling’s Dan Friebe, who wrote in his latest blog: “We contacted a source within the German team on Monday. He confirmed that, yes, T-Mobile would be interested in having the Spaniard on board and that, yes, there was one space left on the team’s roster to potentially accommodate him. The insider also hinted that Valverde had spoken to T-Mobile’s managers and agreed to submit to the conditions of the team’s ethical and medical code. The only remaining problem was and is the rider’s existing agreement to ride for Caisse d’Epargne in 2007.” T-Mobile subsequently confirmed that it had contacted Valverde in December, but nothing concrete came of it. “The matter is now settled,” said team spokesman Stefan Wagner. Caisse d’Epargne had, meanwhile, issued a statement expressing its anger towards T-Mobile for what it termed a “violation of the basic ethical principles and rules.of the UCI ProTour Teams.” Caisse d’Epargne is also taking steps to ensure that Valverde stays with the team, not only for this season, but also beyond. The team has already announced Valverde as one of its leaders for this year’s Tour de France, along with potential 2006 Tour winner Oscar Pereiro. Ethical problem? Had T-Mobile signed Valverde, it could have been construed in the same way as Discovery’s signing of Ivan Basso – which T-Mobile denounced. According to some sources, Valverde has been associated with Operaci¢n Puerto. Spanish daily Abc fuelled the fire when it reported that Alejandro Valverde was on the books of Dr Eufemiano Fuentes. The newspaper alleged that in one of the Guardia Civil’s Operaci¢n Puerto reports, Valverde’s name was the only one recognisable in a black “accounts receivable” book. Furthermore, Dr Fuentes allegedly had a business card from the Silken hotel with “Ale, Manc, Vino, Popo and Valverde” written on it. So far, the Guardia Civil, the Spanish State Sports Council and the Spanish cycling federation have denied that Valverde is linked in any way with Puerto. Also see the Procycling blog: Are T-Mobile serious?. Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum.