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Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia: Alejandro Valverde targets stage victory on Mount Etna

Alejandro Valverde hoping to say ‘adios’ in final Giro d'Italia with at least one stage win.

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CATANIA, Italy (VN) — Alejandro Valverde is hoping to say “adios” to his final Giro d’Italia by going through the puerta grande with a stage victory.

The Movistar Team captain said he’s motivated to try to win at least one stage during his penultimate grand tour.

“To really sign off in the best way, a win is the only thing that counts,” Valverde told MARCA. “I am back to try to win a stage. It’s the ‘photo’ that I am missing and I’d really like to make it happen. It would be nice if it happens, but I also know it’s complicated.”

Despite not contesting the opening stage won by Mathieu van der Poel, Valverde said he really wasn’t taking aim at the pink jersey.

After leaving three days of racing in Hungary, he’s putting an “X” on the roadbook for Tuesday’s stage 4 ending atop Mount Etna.

“It’s a stage I really like and it’s my first chance to race on it,” he said of the volcano summit. “There will be more chances later, and to be honest, I haven’t looked too closely at the route in the same way as if I was racing for the GC.

“We are here to help [Iván] Sosa, who can do some interesting things, including ride into the top five,” he told the Spanish daily. “He will improve and take the next step up in these types of races to help the races.”

The 42-year-old Spanish star says he’s “feeling good” going into Tuesday’s climbing stage up Mount Etna for the Giro’s first summit finish.

“I’m feeling good, or at least I am not bad. I was second in Flèche and seventh in Liège, fighting right until the end,” he said. “But at the Giro, you have to take it day-by-day.

“I am really motivated for Etna,” Valverde continued. “I am happy with how I felt in the first stage, and to be honest, I really didn’t have that one in my mind. I didn’t feel so bad in the time trial, and I have good sensations going into Mount Etna.”

No Tour de France in farewell season

Valverde is skipping a return to the Tour de France in his final season. With the Vuelta a España looming on the horizon, he decided to return to the Giro for the passion and joy of racing.

Third overall in the one and only Giro he raced in 2016, Valverde said he’s normally on vacation this time of year.

“I only raced the Giro once and I would have liked to have raced it more, but I never regret making the decisions I made about my calendar,” said Valverde, who hit the podium in all three grand tours. “The Giro is a nice race because it doesn’t have all the tension that comes at the Tour or Vuelta where I am expected to be in top shape.

“The Giro is a spectacular race to watch and to race,” he said. “It’s not as controlled as the Tour, and the fans here take a special feeling. It’s a little more crazy and it’s beautiful for everyone, including the riders.”