Valverde likely to debut rainbow jersey at Il Lombardia

New world champion could return to Giro d'Italia in 2019

A top member of Movistar's team management has confirmed that Alejandro Valverde will debut his new UCI Road World Champion's rainbow jersey at Il Lombardia before he ends his season.

There have been unconfirmed rumours circulating that Valverde would race Milano-Torinio before Il Lombardia or the Tour of Guangxi after the Italian one-day race, but nothing has been decided.

"For now, the one race that's on the calendar is Il Lombardia," Movistar sports director José Luis Arrieta told Cyclingnews on Wednesday.

"But Alejandro won't be going there just to show off the jersey. He's done way more than we could have expected this season, particularly after last year's crash, but Il Lombardia is a good race for him and he hasn't ever won it, either."

Valverde has come close in Il Lombardia, with two second places, in 2013 and 2014, a fourth in 2015 and a sixth in 2016 in 'The Race of the Falling Leaves'. His first participation came in 2003, when Michele Bartoli won and Valverde, then a second-year pro, finished 39th, just a few weeks after taking his first-ever medal – silver – in the World Championships road race, won that year by Valverde's Spanish compatriot Igor Astarloa.

As for the other possible races, Arrieta says no decision will likely be made until early next week: "A lot will depend on how he's feeling. This is a new situation for him, and there are a lot of demands on his time as new world champion. We'll work it out then."

Looking further ahead, Arrieta says that Valverde's 2019 calendar will likely only be decided at Movistar's traditional end-of-season get-together in early November.

"It'll all be worked out then, at least on paper, when we'll talk it over," Arrieta added. "It's possible that he'll have a strong emphasis on the Classics next year, but the important thing is for him to race the way he wants to, and to enjoy his year as world champion."

As for the Grand Tours, according to an interview Valverde gave to Eurosport shortly after winning the Worlds, a return to the Giro d'Italia, where he finished on the podium in 2016, could be on the cards.

"I'm maybe talking too soon, because this season isn't over yet, but perhaps doing the Classics, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España in the world champion's jersey would be good," Valverde told Eurosport.es.

"The Tour is the Tour, but I've been racing there for a lot of years," he added. "That's not saying I won't do it, but that programme is what I've got in my head at the moment."

What is all but certain is that Valverde will defend the rainbow jersey in 2019 in Great Britain. Valverde has told other media that he's already been looking at the route of the Yorkshire World Championships, which is far less hilly than the Innsbruck circuit, but does have a tough final section.

Valverde has said he will go on racing, EFE reports, "at least until 2020, and then we'll see". At the moment, his last career target could well be the 2020 Olympic Games road race in Tokyo, by which time he will have turned 40.

As new world champion, Valverde has received a rapturous welcome in his home region, culminating in a reception on Tuesday evening in the town hall of its capital, Murcia, and a victory parade through the city-centre streets, seated with his family in the back of an open-top sports car and with an escort of hundreds of local cyclists behind him.

Related Articles

Back to top