STILL EXCITED. Having forged most of his career to date at squads from the Netherlands (Vacansoleil), Italy (Lampre) and Belgium (Lotto), Rafa Valls joined the Movistar Team as happy as a neo-pro, looking forward to leave misfortune behind. However, he was also a DNF at the 2018 Giro d’Italia, where he was the road captain for the Blues, due to a crash on stage 10. That incident, though, hasn’t prevented the Cocentaina native from keeping himself as committed to the team’s interest as ever. As well as working for the leaders, he’d like to seek for individual aspirations in races where he’s not required to pull – chances are that his home race, the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, could see him doing well.
TOP-QUALITY WINS. He’s got few wins in the pro scene, yet all of them are decent ones. In 2010, he conquered the Mirador de Potrero in the Tour de San Luis, and five years later, he added the Green Mountain stage of the Tour of Oman and the overall classification, in front of Tejay van Garderen and Alejandro Valverde. In 2015, Valls also claimed top-ten finishes in Paris-Nice and the Volta a Catalunya. He’s got 7th and 8th in the last two editions of the Tour Down Under, the inaugural event of the UCI WorldTour.
GETTING STRONGER. Injuries and crashes have overshadowed his entire career: a neumotorax in the Vuelta a Murcia (2012), two broken ribs in the 2013 Giro, a humerus in the 2014 Tour Down Under… and three fractured ribs at the 2018 Giro d’Italia. To get over those bad moments and back to his best, Rafa chose to remain with his loved ones in Alicante. He’s never been an extravagant like, rather than a humble, discreet person loved by everyone in his hometown and all the teams he’s been part of, one of which he was nicknamed in as ‘Cocentaina’s Bertsolari’ (teller of verses) because of his skills for rhyming games. If roads are harsh with him, he’s able to improvise – pun absolutely intended.
Before earning a place in the pro peloton with Burgos Monument in 2009, Valls had to prove his legs at two different teams as a trainee, something uncommon as the norm is jumping after one ‘stagiaire’ period. He did so with Relax-Gam (2007) and Scott-American Beef (2008), the organisation which later saw him jumping into the WorldTour (Footon) and debuting in the Tour de France.
- Within the world’s best at the 2018 Giro.
- Winning atop the Green Mountain.
- Victorious in the Mirador del Potrero (San Luis, 2010).
- His Tour of Oman GC success.