Utrecht (Netherlands), 18 Aug. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), at the age of 42, faces his last Vuelta a España with the memory of the round he won in 2009 leaving precisely from the Netherlands.
Now, he will defend “motivated and with the illusion of always” the interests of the team and the best possible position of Enric Mas, whom “Bala” has supported as a leader and in the mental aspect after his bump in the Tour de France.
“For me, a good result would be that my health goes hand in hand, that there are no falls, and if I can win a stage later, it would be milk, it would be very nice. The idea is to help the team,” Valverde said in Utrecht, where this Friday he starts the 77th edition of the Vuelta a España.
At the moment, the experience of 20 years as a professional has allowed Valverde to serve as a support for Enric Mas, affected personally and sportingly after the crisis he suffered in the Tour de France, who finally had to leave, also trapped by the Covid.
“I’ve talked to Enric, but we have to talk about it justly. I’ve advised him to be calm, he’s in good physical shape and class. These are difficult times in sports and in personal life, the same thing happened to me and He comes out of that perfectly. I see him calmer and more confident, besides the Vuelta is a calmer race than the Tour”.
THE MEMORY OF LEAVING THE HOLLAND IN 2009, VICTORY IN MADRID
After seven podium finishes in the Vuelta and the general classification in 2009, Valverde does not hide his affection for the Spanish round, which he hopes to say goodbye to in style.
“The Vuelta is the one I like the most, but also the Giro and the Tour. I have really enjoyed my home race, the affection of the public, and this year I also want to enjoy it, and for that I will try to do my best” , assured.
A stage win would be the dream farewell, but the interests of the team and placing Enric Mas as high as possible in the general classification are priority objectives for the Murcian.
“I have not marked any stage in red, what I want is to do well to look for the general with Enric, and we will fight for a stage. Any stage would be welcome, but we want to do well as a team,” he admitted.
Valverde referred to Enric Mas and showed his confidence in the Balearic cyclist, who, in his opinion, was able to blame his role as sole leader of the team in the last Tour.
“It has been Enric’s first year as sole leader of the team and the pressure may have affected him, but I see him as mature for that challenge. The body is human, sometimes it is not as one wants, but I see him as mature,” he said.
The world champion in 2018, at 42 years old, rules out in the year of his farewell to the Vuelta and to professional cycling the fact of competing with the best in the general classification.
“That possibility is ruled out. I am no longer qualified to be with the best in a 21-day race, and we also have Enric to fight for the general, and why not, to win the Vuelta,” he said.
The “Bala” recalled that the only time the Tour of Holland had previously started, in 2009, he won in Madrid. “Now Enric, who is my roommate, can get it,” he considered.
“THE POINTS ARE A HEADACHE, BUT WE MUST FORGET IT”
Regarding Movistar’s need to achieve UCI points to avoid relegation, Valverde admitted that it is a latent issue, but that he should not be obsessed either.
“In the end, the issue is there, but we have to focus on sports and forget about it. The distribution of points in the different races is not well balanced and it is giving us headaches, but we will save it with solvency,” he said.
After assuring that there will not be a step back in his decision to retire, Valverde said he felt prepared to hang up the bike in the mental aspect.
“One has to get used to the idea. It will be the last year, I am going to adapt without any problem, although it will be difficult after 20 years as a professional. I will get along well, I will be with the family, although I will be with the team for 2 more years. Let’s see what my role is. I will enjoy the bike, but in another way, “he concluded. EFE