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“I can’t believe I’ve achieved 100 victories”

20 February 2017
Imagen de la noticia ‛“I can’t believe I’ve achieved 100 victories”’

Interview: #Bala100

Alejandro Valverde reflects on feelings after making the select group of active riders with more than hundred pro victories: fourth within current generation, second-ever Spaniard to reach the milestone

INFOGRAPHIC | Alejandro Valverde's 100 pro victories listed one by one (Twitter)

He had beaten the record of podium finishes in the World Championships (6), obtained the most wins at Flèche Wallonne (4), Vuelta a Murcia and Ruta del Sol (5 each), achieved the longest age difference between his first and -so far- latest win in the Vuelta a España (12 years). All of those are now joined by one of Alejandro Valverde’s most impressive achievements in his 15-season career. The 36-year-old from Murcia has made the select group of riders who have obtained 100 or more victories as pro competitors. Within those active at the moment, only Tom Boonen, Mark Cavendish and André Greipel have reached that far. In Spain, Txomin Perurena was the only able to surpass the mark in the 1970s, the unmatched Miguel Indurain just three short of hundred. More relaxed after his fifth Andalucía win and with his sights already set on his next goal, Paris-Nice, we look back together with the Movistar Team rider, seeking for his most profound feelings on a historic career success.

Victory #100

“It’s clearly been a special win. Not only because of the milestone, but also due to the way it unfolded, the rivals against whom I claimed it, and how hard the team worked to make it easier for me. To be honest, I didn’t start thinking about victory number 100 until I won in Murcia last week. There, I realized that it was only left two for hundred, and I knew that I’d be in great form for Andalucía, with two or three stages that suited my conditions. In the end, it all went as if we had planned, with that stage win in Granada followed by the overall, making it exactly 100 at the end of the week. Now, what’s next? Well, if I may dream, I’d chase another Vuelta a España, and of course, the World Championships. I’m the rider with the most podium finishes, yet I haven’t worn the rainbow bands yet. That’s something I’m still dreaming of.”

Records

“I had also been told at the race that only Boonen, Greipel and Cavendish had reached hundred in their careers. Those are amazing riders, through they’re all sprinters, who achieve lots of victories into bunch finishes. Being able to make part of that group, if you consider that I’m a different type of rider, one who’s fast yet not a real sprinter – that has to make yourself proud. It’s always been difficult to achieve victories throughout my career, but I’d say it’s even harder to do so right now, because the racing has become really much controlled by stronger teams. That’s why I can’t believe I’ve achieved 100 victories. It’s so hard, even more so nowadays. Being the only Spaniard to have got that far in the last 40 years also proves how difficult it is. I had already beaten the record of wins in Murcia, now in Andalucía – it really boosts my morale to keep chasing records, and I’ll continue for as long as my legs allow me to do so.”

Present and future

“Now I’m able to stay calm easier when I race, I don’t get so nervous. Everywhere I race, it’s just to improve my palmarès and the team’s, to continue enjoying riding my bike and make the fans happier. I’m getting older, I’ve achieved lots of big results, I’ve made a name inside cycling and my personal life is more stable than ever – it all helps a lot. You need great condition and quality, and training as much as you can, of course – but feeling more calm and having such an amazing team, such a lovely group of people around me – even though it’s difficult to win, it all makes it easier. 

I don’t know for how long I’ll keep on racing. For the moment, I plan on fulfilling my current contract – it’s already a long stretch until 2019 – and then we’ll see if I’m still so committed and motivated to carry on. I only want to think about the present right now. When the time comes, we will see if it’s worth to continue racing or rather stop.

His best win

“There have been so many good ones that it’d be difficult to stick to just one. Many times in the past I stated that the one I got most excited about was one where I didn’t win, but meant the whole world to me. It was the silver medal at the Canada Worlds in 2003, behind Igor Astarloa. Also, my stage win in the Tour Down Under, in my first race in 2012 after staying for a year and a half out of racing. I’ve taken care of myself and trained like a beast, the whole team. It was my way to tell the world: ‘Here I am, back again.’ After that, it all was easy for me. The most special win? I don’t know, maybe the first Liège in 2006? I say that because I had always dreamt to winning Liège, it cost us a lot – the team and I – achieving a victory there, also being the first-ever Spaniard to win Liège. That all makes it special.” 

A tribute to all loved ones

Of course, the help of so many people made it possible to reach this number. It’s thank to my family, my parents, my wife and kids – they were rooting and taking care of me all the time. Then, my directors, every since I was a child. Manuel López, the man who coached me as a youth rider, from 14 to 18. Paco Moya. Vicente Belda. And then, José Miguel Echávarri and Eusebio Unzué. All of the current DSs at the Movistar Team: Arri (José Luis Arrieta), Chente (García Acosta), (José Luis) Jaimerena, (José Luis) Laguía, now Pablo Lastras – they’ve all brought me loads of experience to get this far. And of course, all carers, mechanics and team personal, who work their hearts out so I can think only about racing. They’ve all been an integral part of this success.”

PALMARÈS

17 stagerace wins
Vuelta a España
5x Vuelta a Andalucía
3x Vuelta a Murcia 
2x Critérium du Dauphiné 
2x Volta Com. Valenciana 
2x Vuelta a Burgos 
Volta a Catalunya
Vuelta a Castilla y León

21 one-day classics
4x Flèche Wallonne 
3x Klasika Primavera 
3x Liège-Bastogne-Liège 
2x Clásica San Sebastián 
2x Spanish RR Championships
2x Vuelta a Murcia 
Spanish ITT Championship
GP Miguel Indurain 
Paris-Camembert
Prueba Villafranca
Roma Maxima

62 stage wins
9 stages, Vuelta a España
1 stage, Giro d’Italia
4 stages, Tour de France 
8 stages, Vuelta a Andalucía
7 stages, Vuelta a Castilla y León 
5 stages, Vuelta al País Vasco
5 stages, Challenge de Mallorca 
4 stages, Volta a Catalunya 
4 stages, Vuelta a Burgos
3 stages, Vuelta a Murcia 
2 stages, Paris-Nice 
2 stages, Critérium du Dauphiné
2 stages, Volta Com. Valenciana
2 stages, Trofeu Agostinho
1 stage, Tour Down Under
1 stage, Tour de Romandie 
1 stage, Clásica de Alcobendas
1 stage, Vuelta a Aragón

* UCI WorldTour individual ranking winner: ’06, ’08, ’14, ’15
* GC podium finish in all three Grand Tours
* 6 medals at World RR Championships