Alejandro Valverde has agreed to race on with the Movistar team until the end of 2021, when he is expected to finally retire and take up an ambassador and development role for at least three years with the Spanish WorldTour team.
Valverde and Movistar confirmed the contract news in Murcia as Valverde prepared to ride Sunday’s Spanish national road race championships.
He was forced to miss this year’s Giro d’Italia after crashing before this year’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège and suffering a bone edema in his sacrum. But after winning the recent La Route d'Occitanie, Valverde confirmed he will ride the Tour de France alongside Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa, with the Vuelta a Espana also part of his 2019 schedule.
“I’m so happy with this extension. Everyone knows the Movistar Team is home to me. I’ve always felt really loved and respected here, and I’m so happy to be able to stay with the team for the next two years,” Valverde said making the announcement alongside Movistar team manager Eusebio Unzue.
“It gives me the calmness and confidence I need to keep working hard and enjoying bike racing. I will fight for new victories, as many as we can, and also help our team-mates to achieve big success wherever possible in the future.”
Valverde turned profession in 2002 and has gone on to be one of the successful Spanish riders of his generation. He has won 125 races, including Liège-Bastogne-Liège four times, La Flèche Wallonne five times and the 2009 Vuelta a Espana. He served a two-year doping ban in 2010 and 2011 for his links to the Operación Puerto blood doping scandal, returning to racing in 2012 with Movistar.
In 2017 Valverde suffered a fractured kneecap in the opening time trial of the Tour de France. However he was back riding better than ever in 2018, finally winning the world title road in Innsbruck after years of trying and podium spots.
"Operación Puerto is something I shouldn't be asked about," Valverde said in one of his first races as world champion last October. "That's water under the bridge, and I don't even want to talk about it. I believe I've sufficiently demonstrated who I am since then. Who asks me about Operación Puerto is clueless."
The Movistar team has always stayed loyal to Valverde.
“We feel privileged to have enjoyed for so long the sporting and human quality of such a great man as Alejandro,” Unzue said in a team announcement.
“He’s brought us big success, of course, yet he’s offered us many lessons even when he’s not crossed the line first. His recovery in 2017 after such a serious injury in the Tour de France; his resilience to keep seeking for success after nearly two decades in the sport; and his affable character with everyone he’s worked with or come across, make them an essential person for us, a leader in and out of the races. Hopefully he can continue enjoy bike racing in these two years as he’s done during his whole career.”