ARE YOU SURE ABOUT THAT? Well, it seems so, ladies and gentlemen – it really looks like 2022 will be the last season of Alejandro Valverde. Might it end up as such or not, absolutely nothing else can be asked from the career of arguably the best ever talent Spanish cycling has seen in its history, one of the best riders in the 21st century and someone whom everyone will miss so much when he stops pinning numbers on his back -the bike won’t be far away from him, being one of the true loves of his life-. 2021 was a true sporting recovery for ‘Bala’ and another short summary of his career: despite a huge crash in La Vuelta, from which he recovered quickly, the Spanish ‘Campionissimo’ got back to winning ways, after such a difficult 2020 season, with three resounding victories: one stage in the Dauphiné, another one in the Giro di Sicilia and, most notably, his exhibition in the GP Miguel Indurain.
THE NEW GENERATION? HA! However, if you have to underline anything about Alejandro’s 2021 season, it was actually his ability to slam the door again, for already so many years, on those huge, younger talents who want to deny him a spot at the fore of the bunch. He was again the most consistent in the peloton during his beloved Ardennes classics -5th in Amstel, 3rd in Huy, 4th in Liège-, and his presence was a huge factor for how things unfolded in those races. He made the provisional podium of La Vuelta for several days before crashing. And again squeezed his legs until the very end -with enough motivation, after his 5th place in Lombardia, to keep on racing for an extra day and fight for victory at the Coppa Agostoni-, showing that commitment, will to suffer and work hard and offer an example to everybody -the same that he brought with a brilliant comeback in the Volta a Catalunya, after a challenging start to 2021- have nothing to do with the birthdate your identity card says.
ENDLESS PALMARÈS. ‘El Bala’, ‘El Imbatido’ or, simply and as he likes best, ‘Balaverde’, has already got 130 victories to his name in the pro peloton. The biggest ones are surely his 2018 Worlds road race success in Innsbruck, his 2009 La Vuelta and his four UCI yearly world titles, yet there’s absolutely everything into that list. Five Flèches Wallonnes, four Liège-Bastogne-Liège, GC podiums in the Giro and the Tour, twelve stages of La Vuelta, four in the ‘Grande Boucle’, two Dauphinés, three Voltas a Catalunya, 2 Clásicas de San Sebastián – we could continue typing them down and this paragraph would never end, and those numbers wouldn’t make justice to his greatness. Both the sporting one and, more importantly, the human one -a crucial factor for the team’s cohesion and success; a loving husband and father of five kids; head of his own youth team-. An absolute star, in all senses.
2005-21: Illes / Caisse / Movistar Team