Alejandro Valverde will not compete at the Criterium du Dauphiné opting instead to conclude his build up to the Tour de France by racing the Route du Sud later this month.
Since finishing second in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege in April the Movistar rider has not taken part in a race. He was scheduled to return to racing at the Dauphine – starting this weekend – after a long period of altitude training in Sierra Nevada.
However, Movistar have announced in a statement that Valverde has chosen not to ride the French stage race, favouring the Route du Sud taking place in the Pyrenees in late June.
“Good shape acquired in his three-week, altitude training camp in Sierra Nevada, combined with the chance of inspecting the final ITT and all three Pyrenean stages in the Grande Boucle made Valverde change his calendar,” read the statement from the Spanish team.
With Valverde out of the picture, John Gadret, Benat Inxtausti and Igor Anton, fresh from supporting Nairo Quintana's victorious Giro d'Italia campaign, will lead the Movistar effort. Meanwhile, Alex Dowsett, Pablo Lastras and José Joaquin Rojas are all included in the team's Tour de Suisse squad.
Quintana has confirmed he will not be riding the Tour de France, which removes any doubts over who will lead Movistar in the grand tour and the Spanish team will no doubt build their efforts around Valverde.
By winning the Fleche Walonne, the Ruta de Sol, the Vuelta a Murcia, the Roma Maxima and the GP Miguel Indurain, the Spanish veteran has experienced an impressive start to the season.
His best Tour de France finish to date is his fifth place of 2007. Since his comeback in early 2012 after a doping ban, Valverde has placed 20th and eight in the two editions of the Tour he has ridden in.
Movistar team for Critérium du Dauphiné: Igor Antón, Imanol Erviti, John Gadret, Iván Gutiérrez, Beñat Intxausti, Enrique Sanz, Sylwester Szmyd and Giovanni Visconti.
Movistar team for Tour de Suisse: Eros Capecchi, Alex Dowsett, Ion Izagirre, Pablo Lastras, Juanjo Lobato, Javi Moreno, Rubén Plaza and José Joaquín Rojas.
Movistar team for Route du Sud: Alejandro Valverde, Iván Gutiérrez, Jesús Herrada, Adriano Malori, Jasha Sütterlin, Jonathan Castroviejo, Sylwester Szmyd and Giovanni Visconti.
Meanwhile, Lampre – Merida's Chris Horner will continue to train in Italy instead of racing in the Tour de Suisse next week as he prepares for the Tour de France.
Horner suffered a number of injuries, including a punctured lung and broken ribs when he was hit by a car while training in April. He missed the recently concluded Giro d'Italia but was considering riding the Suisse tour as a final preparation before the grand depart in England.
However, Lampre – Merida's medical staff are worried about what might happen to his only partially healed ribs if he suffers another crash and have opted to keep him training in Italy.
“We’re not going to have him do Suisse. There will be good weather in Italy and he has a good training programme ahead of him so we’d prefer him to recover completely,” Lampre-Merida team boss Brent Copeland said.
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