Valverde eyes Merckx’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege record

Rather than losing morale after his shock defeat in La Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) remains strongly upbeat for Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday, with the chance of equalling Eddy Merckx’s record of five wins a major motivation.

“It’s very important for me,” Valverde, already the winner of La Doyenne in 2006, 2008, 2015 and 2017, told local newspaper La Meuse on Friday.

“We’re talking about drawing equal with a legend. I have a huge amount of respect for him [Merckx], he stayed humble despite his massive palmarès. And drawing equal to him would give a victory on Sunday a special dimension.”

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Valverde told the paper that his defeat in Wednesday’s Flèche Wallonne “changes nothing”, and that “I’ve known for a long time I’m not unbeatable.”

He added that the disappointment of finishing second to Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) hadn’t lasted long. “In cycling, losing is a lot easier than winning,” he pointed out.

Furthermore, Valverde told La Meuse that, looking at the television images of the finish of La Flèche Wallonne the evening after the race, he realised he had made a mistake on the Mur itself.

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