Alejandro, where are you?
Recent Vuelta winner Alejandro Valverde is not checking into a Swiss hotel after bolting from his Italian accommodations.
After a frosty welcome from the Italian ProTour president, who called Valverde’s participation in the World Championships, “shameful and disturbing,” the Spanish rider decided it was safer in Switzerland, a country famous for its neutrality. However, those initial reports proved erroneous.
Valverde has apparently taken extra precautions and left Europe all together and is staying at a modest eco-hotel in Costa Rica. The Finca Valverde is located in Monteverde next to the Cloud Forest Reserve, a popular nature preserve.
“I am well here,” said Valverde. “There are no Italians and I am free to wander the jungle and breathe the fresh air. I saw a tapir yesterday and a three-wattled bellbird. Plus, I like the hotel name. It gives me confidence.”
Valverde has been dogged for years by allegations of his involvement in the Operacion Puerto doping scandal. In May, the Italian Olympic Committee banned him for two years from racing in Italy. He is currently waiting for the Court for Arbitration in Sport to rule on his counter-suit against the UCI and WADA.
For Valverde, the break from Europe appears to beneficial. “My mind is at ease. I walked the butterfly garden this morning. Later I will see the bat jungle, then perhaps tour the coffee farm. The zip-lines look fun, too,” said Valverde.
It remains to be seen how the Spanish team will transport Valverde from Costa Rica back to Mendrisio, Switzerland before the Elite Men’s Road Race on Sunday.