Valverde outlines ambitious comeback after career-threatening crash

Valverde told a Spanish newspaper he will focus on the spring classics, the Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, and the worlds in 2018.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) remains as determined as ever despite his career-threatening crash at the Tour de France. In an interview with the Spanish daily El País, he outlined an ambitious calendar for his comeback next year.

His stated goals for next season — the spring classics, the Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, and world championships — reveal just how confident he is feeling.

“Next year I want to focus on the Giro, Vuelta, and worlds,” he told El País. “The worlds course is very, very hard. I don’t have many more chances for the world title. I have six medals, but none of them are gold.”

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He purposely is leaving the Tour de France off his calendar. Why? With the arrival of Mikel Landa and the presence of Nairo Quintana, there’s plenty of firepower on Movistar’s roster for July.

The 37-year-old Spaniard said his recovery from his Tour de France crash is going better than expected.

“How am I not going to come back better than ever? The recovery has been perfect,” he said. “Let’s see how my knee has recovered. Everything is going well right now, but I still haven’t raced yet, so I really won’t know until I do.”

After his crash in the opening stage of the Tour, Valverde was operated on the next day and began rehab as soon as he could. His recovery has gone so well that he was even considering racing in last weekend’s Giro di Lombardia or the new race in China later this month.

Instead of risking a mishap, however, Valverde will continue training in Spain ahead of the early season races in 2018 at what he hopes is near top form.

“When I hit the barrier, it cut me open like a melon. You could see it all the way to the bone. I didn’t realize it until I saw the people who were looking at it,” he said. “I feel good now. I am doing 700km a week of training. The people I train with say I am as good as ever. I really want to test myself in a race. I am impatient.”

Valverde won’t map out his official racing schedule until the team meets in early December to finalize the racing calendar. He could return for the WorldTour season opener at the Santos Tour Down Under in January.