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An Olympic Gold: Valverde’s ‘dream’ ending

39-year-old Valverde insists age is no object as he heads toward season likely to include Tour, Olympics and world championships.

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) insists his goal is to win the Olympic road race next summer, when he will be 40 years old.

Valverde laid out his goals for the 2020 season, but only a Gold medal would offer a “phenomenal climax” to his career that already includes a world title, Liège-Bastogne-Liège four times, and the Vuelta a España overall.

“For 2020 there are many objectives because every race is run at one hundred percent and they are all very important,” he told Europa Press.

“The Tour is essential, not only for me, but for the team and we must take the best team. Then there is the Tokyo Olympics, which is super important, and thirdly the worlds in Switzerland, which is very hard and with a chance for me to do well.

“It is clear that the Games mean a lot for me, of course. My dream is still there and it’s a very, very important goal for next year. If I had to choose a win for 2020, it would be the Games. Being an Olympic champion would be a phenomenal climax to my sports career.”

Valverde, 40 on April 25, has raced every Olympic road race since the Athens Games in 2004. He placed 12th in the Beijing Games in 2008.

This year, like Chris Froome (Ineos), he will race the Tour de France ahead of the Olympics. It should allow him “to prepare” for the Olympic race, which falls just six days later.

He said, “We have the handicap that the Tour ends on July 19 and that the race in Tokyo is the following Sunday, with the weather that will be there and also the time change.”

The 2020 Tour de France begins in Nice on June 27 and ends in Paris on July 19, a little earlier for the Olympic year. The Tokyo road race on July 25 is one of the first events of the Games.

The road race will not be easy with nearly 5000 meters of climbing. The course suits climbers like Valverde with its five passes and a finish in the shadow of Japan’s famous Mount Fuji – 234 kilometers in total. The Mikuni Pass, 6.8km climb and 10.2% average, peaks just 34 kilometers from the finish.

Valverde won the worlds title in Innsbruck, Austria, at 38 years old, becoming the second-oldest winner in the race’s 100 years. He insists age is not an issue when it comes to his goals for 2020 and beyond.

“It is clear that if it’s not going right and I am not doing well, I will be the first to say that I’m done, but it still does not enter my head,” he continued.

“I started training a few days ago and the sensations are nothing different from previous years.”

Valverde finished third overall in the Tour de France in 2015 behind winner Chris Froome (Ineos) and team-mate Nairo Quintana. In 2020, he will go to the Tour with the idea of helping new teammate Enric Mas for the overall classification, aiming for stages and that sharp edge for his Olympic dream.

“Enric has already been second in a Vuelta a España, it is a reality that can win the Tour,” he said.

“Marc Soler is also very strong. I want to teach the new generations and this year, there has been a very important change within the team with young new riders. My help is also an important part for the team.”