If Alejandro Valverde had caused a stir with his hint at a Tour of Flanders participation, the anticipation certainly hadn’t dampened by the end of Dwars door Vlaanderen, where he placed 11th after animating the race.
The Spaniard is a four-time winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and five-time winner of La Flèche Wallonne, but he’s inexperienced on the cobbles and bergs of the Flanders region of Belgium, and his presence at Dwars, nominally at least, was a learning exercise ahead of the Paris-Roubaix-inspired stage of this year’s Tour de France.
However, he quickly became one of the most talked-about riders when he hinted on Belgian television on Tuesday evening that he could make a late change to his race programme and line up at De Ronde on Sunday.
In the end, the inexperience hardly showed as he rolled with the punches from some of the world’s best classics riders and even threw some of his own. After making the first true selection with just over 50km to go, he finished in the second group on the road behind the four leaders.
“We did the best we could today. I had a problem with my bike and had to change bikes. But in the end, I’m happy with the race,” Valverde said before being rushed to anti-doping.
As for Sunday: “We’ll think about that later. At the moment I can’t think.”
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