By Andrew Hood
Valverde: Hoping to get through it
Alejandro Valverde is hopeful he’ll be able to get through Thursday’s brutal climbing stage in the mountains near Almería without too much difficult. The Valenciana-Kelme rider suffered a serious fall early in Tuesday’s stage and showed up for the pre-race sign-in with bandages on his left knee.
“I am lucky we had the day off yesterday,” Valverde told VeloNews. “I’m pretty banged up, with the most pain in my knee and my hip. We’ll see how things go but it could be difficult.”
Valverde’s crash made national news and some were wondering if he’d be able to continue. The 24-year-old rider from Murcia has captured the imagination of Spanish fans and he’s seen as a favorite to take on Roberto Heras in the final half of the Vuelta.
Medical check-ups revealed no broken bones, but Valverde admitted he was hurting.
“We didn’t ride very long yesterday because it was too painful, but the rest day couldn’t have come at a better time,” Valverde said. “If I can make it through today I should be OK. We’ll see.”
Trenti to ride for Yanks once again
Italian-American Guido Trenti says he expects to line up for the American world championship team later this month in Verona.
Trenti is back in the peloton after a horrible crash in April that left him with seven broken bones and kept him off the bike for 45 days, forcing him to miss both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France.
“I hit a car during training and I broke seven bones, including my chin and my arm,” Trenti told VeloNews while sipping coffee in the start village in sunny Almería. “The recovery was long and difficult and I lost most of my form, so I have had to start at zero. I am feeling better, but I’m getting stronger as the Vuelta goes on.”
Trenti won a stage in the 2001 Vuelta and made headlines when he decided to race for the American world championships team in 2002 and 2003. His mother is American, but he’s never been to the United States and doesn’t speak English.
But he realized his chances of ever making the hyper-competitive Italian team were dismal and queried about riding for the Americans. The U.S. team was glad to take the experienced rider and Trenti was the top American rider in 2002.
“I am working hard to be ready for the worlds because it would be a great honor to race in Verona,” Trenti said. “I hope to be on the team.”
Menchov low-key about chances
Denis Menchov refuses to speculate about his chances in the final half of the Vuelta a España. The Russian is sitting quietly in eighth at 2:42, but admits it he could be too far behind to seriously challenge for the overall.
“We’ll see how things go, because I already have a bit of time behind the leaders, so maybe the overall is something that’s not going to be possible,” said Menchov before the start of Thursday’s stage. “We’ll see, but I still would like to do something in this Vuelta.”
Menchov said the team will be working to support Francisco Mancebo, sitting third at 29 seconds back going into Thursday’s stage. Menchov is reportedly joining Rabobank next season, but once again refused to answer questions about the switch.
Sastre confident, but cautious
Team CSC’s Carlos Sastre said he’s feeling optimistic going into the Vuelta’s final half, but stressed he wants to take the race “day by day.”
“Every day there seems to be one less favorite, so the most important thing is to stay at the front and keep fighting,” said Sastre, sitting seventh overall at 1:35 back. “The stage today is difficult, but there are still a lot of difficult climbing days ahead. Covatilla, Sierra Nevada and Navacerrada aren’t climbs to forget.”
Sastre is best-known for winning a stage in the 2003 Tour de France and popping a baby’s pacifier into his mouth as he crossed the finish line, earning him kudos with fathers everywhere. Now Sastre says he’s carrying two pacifiers in the back jersey pocket following the birth of his second child three months ago.