Froome and Sky Not Invincible, says Alejandro Valverde


PORTO-VECCHIO, France, June 28, 2013 (AFP) – Experienced Spanish rider
Alejandro Valverde said on Friday that outstanding Tour de France favorite
Chris Froome was not unbeatable, as he eyes a place on the podium when the
race ends in Paris.

Valverde, 33, has never previously had a top-three finish on the Tour and
is not widely expected to trouble the leading contenders.

But he was in confident mood at a Movistar team news conference in
Porto-Vecchio, where the first stage of the 100th edition of the race gets
under way on Saturday.

“We can aspire to do something more than just win a couple of stages,” said
Valverde, a talented all-rounder who won a mountain stage in the Pyrenees in
last year’s Tour.

“We have a very strong team and our aim is to be in a position to fight for
a place on the podium in Paris.”

The former Tour of Spain champion acknowledged that Britain’s Froome was
the favorite for overall victory but believed he has improved with age and
feels that a way can be found to get the better of Team Sky.

“I am 33 now and have had moments of happiness and disappointment in my
career but we are convinced that we can do well,” he said.

“The Tour is very long and for all he has done this season Froome is the
big favorite.

“He has a great team around him and they will be difficult to beat — but
they are not invincible.

“I think with a bit of luck I can go head to head with him and get on to
the podium. I respect Froome but I am not afraid of anyone.”

Valverde, whose career was marred by a two-year doping ban handed down as
part of the Operation Puerto investigation, also refused to rule out the
prospect of teaming up with compatriot Alberto Contador in a coalition against
Team Sky.

“For the moment everyone is working for their own team but why not later
on? There are various Spanish riders out there who can fight for a place on
the podium,” he said.