He said: "This title, this red jersey really does mean a lot to me. That race back in 2011 was incredibly special for me. It was when I first started to believe in myself as a Grand Tour contender.
“And it was the race where I had my first professional victory, and I’ve got some really special memories from that race.
“It’s a real purist race. August in the middle of Spain. Temperatures over 40 degrees quite often. It’s one of the most gruelling events on our calendar, if not the toughest. So it’s one of my personal favourites.”
The seven-time Grand Tour champion praised the race in Spain ahead of the start on Saturday.
“The people there are so passionate about cycling. The way they seem to just celebrate the race and when the race comes through they cheer for all riders regardless of your nationality,” he explained.
“To be named the winner eight years on does feel a bit strange on the one hand but it’s a really special one to add.
“It’s so different to had I actually won it back then, being able to stand on that podium in Madrid and really soak up the feeling of winning that Grand Tour, being the first British rider to win a Grand Tour.
“That would have been an amazing feeling. It’s still a special event to me even though it’s been handed to me in hindsight. It still is something I’ll treasure for the rest of my life.”