Back in Spain: Alejandro Valverde is sure

Dhe can’t defy his age either. The collarbones protrude pointedly from under the jersey. The step has slowed down. The kick isn’t as explosive anymore either. No, even Alejandro Valverde cannot stop the hands of the biological clock. The professional cyclist from Murcia is now 42 years old. This Vuelta a España is his last big tour. He does it differently than usual, but at least in style. And he is celebrated by his home audience.

“Yes, it touches me how people greet me, say goodbye to me. It shows me that I must have given them something,” Valverde told the FAZ during his farewell tour. Especially in Murcia, his home region, the affection was enormous. The Vuelta organizers put the start of the eleventh stage there. They also added the Sierra de La Pandera to the course as a tribute to Valverde.

In the style of the “elder statesman”

In 2003 he already won a stage at the Vuelta here. Back then, Erik Zabel crossed the finish line in a gruppetto. The Berliner also won the points jersey that year – ahead of Valverde, by the way, with whom he fought a long-distance duel for points at the time. The telecom professional collected in the sprints, Valverde in the hill climbs. This detail alone shows the distant world to which Alejandro Valverde’s career stretches back.

He contested this Vuelta a España, his 16th, in the style of an “elder statesman”. He held audiences in the mixed zone, always saying the same well-chosen words. In the race, he was particularly worried about Enric Mas. With his experience, he helped the 27-year-old compatriot to a place on the podium. “I’m here to help and above all to give him peace of mind,” said Valverde himself.

He would have liked to have crowned his farewell with a stage win. He let it be known. It would have been his 13th at a Vuelta, his 18th at a Grand Tour overall, his 134th win overall. Those are impressive numbers. The racing statistics are even more impressive: he covered around 94,000 kilometers alone in his 32 Grand Tour starts alone.



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