Spain’s national coach Javier Minguez has criticised Alejandro Valverde’s failure to chase down Rui Costa when the Portuguese rider bridged across to Joaquim Rodriguez in the closing kilometres of the World Championships, and then went on to win.
Valverde has blamed his tactical error on not having the legs to follow Rui Costa. But for Minguez, who took over the job of Spanish trainer from Jose Luis De Santos this year, suggested that Valverde’s failure to react as the Portuguese rider jumped away was not satisfactory.
“Purito’s performance deserved a gold,” said Minguez, “and losing the gold in this way annoys me, although I’m pleased we got silver and bronze.”
“Joaquim raced fantastically well, but Valverde made a serious mistake. If Rui Costa goes for Purito, he has to go after him. If he had done that, he’d be in the rainbow jersey now.”
“He should have chased down anything that moved - even the television motorbike.”
“Okay, two medals is cause for a fiesta. But thanks to his error, we’re not World Champions.”
Minguez praised the Spanish team for “doing everything we had said beforehand. Even if it was terrible weather and we got two medals, it’s annoying to see how stupid we look for not getting gold. It was ours and we lost it.”
With three silvers and two bronzes, Valverde is now the most be-medalled rider of cycling history in elite men’s road-racing - Marianne Vos has that honour in the womens’ category - but none of them are gold.
In 2004 in Verona, Valverde’s work for Oscar Freire in the closing kilometres en route to Spain’s previous gold was exceptional. But since then the Murcia-born rider has come in for criticism, most notably in Valkenberg 2012.