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Alejandro Valverde to ride Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España in final professional season

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) (Image credit: Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images)

Alejandro Valverde will skip the Tour de France and instead ride the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España in 2022, his final season as a professional rider.

The Spaniard outlined his programme when he spoke with reporters on Wednesday in Sangüesa, where Movistar were unveiling their plans to become the first carbon neutral team in the WorldTour.

The 41-year-old will also race the Ardennes Classics in his final campaign, as he seeks to add to his haul of five wins at Flèche Wallonne and four wins at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He placed third at Flèche this year and fourth at Liège, where he was unable to match eventual winner Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) in the five-up sprint for the honours.

Valverde’s lone previous appearance at the Giro came in 2016, when he placed third overall after winning stage 16 to Andalo. He abandoned the 2021 Vuelta after crashing heavily on stage 7. 

He won the overall title at the Vuelta in 2009, the season before he was handed a belated, two-year suspension for his implication in the Operacion Puerto blood doping inquiry.

“I want to enjoy every race and be competitive,” Valverde said, according to Ciclismo a Fondo.

Valverde will thus miss the Tour de France for the first time since 2011, when he was serving his doping suspension. Enric Mas, who finished fifth and sixth overall at the past two editions of the Tour, will lead Movistar’s general classification challenge in July.

Mas, Valverde and Movistar women’s riders Lourdes Oyarbide and Sara Martín were all present at a ceremony in Sangüesa on Wednesday to mark the team’s role in a joint project with Volvo, Forestmatic and the Life Terra foundation to plant 1,000 trees on a one-hectare plot of land in the Navarran town. 

Movistar maintains that planting the trees will help to neutralise approximately 200 tonnes of CO2 over the next 40 years, which would offset the team’s carbon footprint of 176 tonnes from the 2019 season, the final full campaign before the coronavirus pandemic.

Back in June 2020, the team announced that they were aiming to become the first cycling team to achieve 100 per cent sustainability, with solar panels installed at the team's headquarters and a switch to hybrid team cars among the team's planned moves.

Manager Eusebio Unzué described the reforestation project as “a key step towards becoming a 100 per cent sustainable cycling team.”

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