Valverde to retire after 2022 season

By Sports Desk October 27, 2021

Alejandro Valverde has confirmed he will retire at the end of the 2022 season and hopes to contest at least one more grand tour on home soil in the Vuelta a Espana.

Next year will be the veteran rider's 21st campaign in professional cycling and he sees no need to continue further despite still feeling able to compete.

Valverde, who ruled out competing at next year's Tour de France, will remain in a coaching role with the Movistar team after his retirement, given his contract will still have two years to run.

The 41-year-old won the Vuelta in 2009 and has achieved a further six podium finishes at the prestigious event.

Valverde has also finished third in the Tour de France and come third in the Giro d'Italia in the only time he competed in the Italian stage race in 2016, as well as being crowned world road champion in 2018.

The Spaniard returned from a two-year suspension due to the Operacion Puerto investigation in 2012, having had all of his 2010 results annulled after a lengthy legal battle.

"I say with total conviction, 100 per cent, that 2022 is going to be my last year," Valverde told Sports Radiogaceta.

"Even though my level is good at 42, it makes no sense to extend longer after 21 years in the business. What more do I want? My time has come.

"I want to enjoy my last season as a pro. I don't have my season sketched out yet, but a start at the Tour de France is already excluded.

"I hope to race the Vuelta next year, and we will study the Giro route too, and then there is the Classics and all the races on the Spanish calendar.

"When I retire I have a contract for two more years in the Movistar team. I will try to help the team as much as I can, especially by coaching young riders, which is something I like a lot."

Related items

  • Vuelta a Espana: Roglic aims for historic success as Valverde has his last dance Vuelta a Espana: Roglic aims for historic success as Valverde has his last dance

    Primoz Roglic will set out on a mission to create cycling history as the Slovenian gets his Vuelta a Espana campaign under way on Friday.

    The 77th edition of the Grand Tour starts in Utrecht, with the opening three stages taking place across the Netherlands before the caravan transfers to Spain.

    It is only the fourth time that the Vuelta has started outside of Spain, after doing so in Portugal in 1997, the Netherlands in 2009 and France in 2017.

    Spanish riders have won 32 of the previous 76 editions, but not since 2014 has a Spaniard triumphed, when Alberto Contador tasted glory.

    It is the longest wait for a Spaniard champion in the race's history, and in the last three years, it is Roglic who has dominated.

    Meanwhile, Alejandro Valverde, the 2009 champion, will bid goodbye to his home Grand Tour.

     

    Roglic's shot at history

    Roglic won his first Vuelta title in 2019 and successfully defended in 2020, despite his heartbreaking defeat to Tadej Pogacar at that year's Tour de France.

    He crashed out of Le Tour in 2021 but bounced back in style, winning Olympic gold in Tokyo before clinching a third-straight Vuelta triumph to match the feats of Tony Rominger (1992 to 1994) and Roberto Heras (2003 to 2005).

    Now, Roglic has history in his sights. Only Heras has won the Vuelta on four occasions, but no rider has ever won it over four successive years.

    The 32-year-old Roglic's Tour de France again ended early this year, as he watched team-mate Jonas Vingegaard storm to success and set up a rivalry with Roglic's compatriot Pogacar that should enthral for years to come; but at the Vuelta, Roglic is Jumbo-Visma's main man.

    Roglic has won the Vuelta in all of his three appearances, reaching nine stage wins in this period, more than any other rider (Fabio Jakobsen is the next best, with five to his name). He also claimed the points ranking in both 2019 and 2020, and could equal Erik Zabel (three) as joint-second on the all-time list for that classification, behind Sean Kelly, Valverde and Laurent Jalabert (four each).

    "Of course the record gives me more motivation, it's special," said Roglic in a press conference on Thursday. "We're going to fight for that."

    There are some concerns over his fitness after the injury he suffered at Le Tour, however.

    Roglic said: "At certain moments I still feel some pain, but it is already much better than before. We'll see. If I get to the start here, it means I'm ready too. But I'll have to wait and see in the coming days and weeks to find out how it really goes."

    Roglic could also feasibly set a record for the most stages wearing the red leader's jersey. He is currently level with Herras on 36, 12 behind Alex Zulle's haul of 48.

    A last dance for Vuelta veterans?

    Valverde, of Movistar, will be making his 16th Vuelta appearance. The 42-year-old has achieved more podium finishes in the general classification than any other rider, having done so on seven occasions, including his 2009 success.

    If he completes the race, Valverde, who has won 12 individual stages at La Vuelta, will equal Federico Etxabe, Chente Garcia Acosta and Inigo Cuesta as riders who have finished the most times (14).

    "To win a stage would be incredible," Valverde said on Thursday. "I don't believe I will be at the same level as the best during 21 days, but we do have a team-mate who can be among the top three or perhaps even win. What I see for myself is that I will try to win a stage."

    Chris Froome, meanwhile, is a two-time Vuelta champion who is out to prove himself once more.

    The seven-time Grand Tour winner has been struggling with COVID-19 in the build-up this time but is set to make his eighth appearance in the race, having finished on the podium four times, taking the 2011 and 2017 titles.

    The first of those victories was only awarded to Froome in 2019 after original race winner Juan Jose Cobo was disqualified for a doping offence.

    In a stellar career, Froome has become the first British rider to win all three of the biggest races in cycling.

     

  • Quintana pulls out of Vuelta a Espana amid drug infringement allegations Quintana pulls out of Vuelta a Espana amid drug infringement allegations

    Nairo Quintana has elected not to ride in the Vuelta a Espana, with his decision coming a day before the start of the season's final Grand Tour gets under way in the Netherlands.

    On Wednesday, Quintana was retrospectively disqualified from this year's Tour de France for an in-competition drug infringement.

    The Colombian finished sixth in the General Classification, his first top-10 Grand Tour finish since the 2019 Vuelta and his best performance in the Tour de France since 2016.

    However, the UCI announced that two samples of Quintana's blood showed traces of tramadol, a banned substance.

    The 32-year-old was given 10 days to appeal the ruling with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), though he has not been banned from competition as it is a first offence.

    On Thursday, the Colombian confirmed he would not be riding in the Vuelta, despite initially stating he would be doing so.

    In a widely reported statement, Arkea-Samsic rider Quintana said: "I communicate that I will not participate in the Vuelta to assert my reasons before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, I will return to the calendar races at the end of the season."

    Quintana had responded to the allegations via his social media channels, stating: "I have been surprised by the announcement of the UCI of an infraction for use of tramadol.

    "I am completely unaware of the use of this substance and I deny having used it in my career.

    "With my team of lawyers we are exhausting all the processes to assume my defence.

    "I also want to ratify that I will be in the Vuelta a Espana, riding my best for the team, my country and my fans."

  • Quintana disqualified from Tour de France for drug infringement Quintana disqualified from Tour de France for drug infringement

    Nairo Quintana has been disqualified from the 2022 Tour de France for an in-competiton drug infringement.

    The Colombian finished sixth in this year's competition, which was won by Danish rider Jonas Vingegaard.

    However, the UCI announced on Wednesday that two samples of Quintana's blood showed traces of tramadol, a banned substance.

    The 32-year-old has 10 days to appeal the ruling with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), though he has not been banned from competition as it is a first offence.

    Quintana's sixth place in the General Classification was his first top-10 Grand Tour finish since the 2019 Vuelta a Espana, and his best performance in the Tour de France since 2016.

    The Arkea-Samsic team announced that Quintana had signed a contract extension until 2025 on Tuesday, though he was not named in their squad for this year's Vuelta a Espana, which starts on Friday.

    The team released a statement on Wednesday saying: "The Arkea-Samsic team took note of the notification from the UCI and received by Nairo Quintana informing him of the presence of tramadol in two samples of dried blood collected during the last Tour de France.

    "Since March 1, 2019, the UCI medical regulations have provided for the banning of tramadol in competition for medical reasons.

    "Furthermore, this violation of the UCI medical regulations does not lead to a suspension for the rider.

    "The Arkea-Samsic team will not provide any further comment."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.