Alejandro Valverde is giving more and more thought to the idea of continuing his career beyond 2021, saying he feels he has "more to give to cycling".
The Spaniard, who turned 40 in April, had pencilled in the end of 2021 as his retirement date when he signed a two-year contract extension with Movistar last year. However, despite insisting in February that it would be "that and no more", the break enforced by the COVID-19 pandemic seems to have altered his thinking.
During a press conference at a Spanish national team training camp on Monday, Valverde was asked about the idea of extending his career beyond 2021.
"Yes, it's something I've been thinking about and something I see as very possible," he said.
"I'm working with the idea of finishing this year, doing the next, and then reevaluating. I have it in mind. I feel capable of giving more to cycling.
"I feel good, with hunger and motivation," he added. "I'm 40, but in my head I'm very young."
Valverde's teammates at the camp in Altea attested to that. Most are very young, with national coach Pascual Momparler keen to blend the experience of Valverde, who he described as a "lighthouse", with the next generation of riders.
"Training with Valverde is brutal," said 24-year-old Fernando Barceló. "I'd never done it before and I think age is just a number for him, as he dropped us four or five times.
"You're asking him about his age but that seems crazy. I think we'll see Valverde around for a while yet."
Valverde was due to target the Olympic road race on the hilly Tokyo course this summer, but the Games have now been postponed to 2021.
This year, he will race the Tour de France alongside Movistar newcomer Enric Mas before leading Spain at the World Championships, which take place on a hilly circuit in Switzerland.
The Worlds were the reason for the national camp in Altea, with Momparler naming Valverde as the "only rider assured of a spot". Mas and Mikel Landa may also present strong cases to lead the team but were absent from the camp.
"It's my big objective of the year, given how well the route suits me," Valverde said.
"There are other teammates in the squad who it also suits. Momparler has to decide, and maybe we can play multiple cards. I believe I can fight for it, though."
Valverde described the Tour de France, where he will share responsibilities with Mas, as the perfect preparation for Worlds, given it ends on September 20, a week before the road race.
He'll aim to be in top shape there and will later make a decision on whether to target Liège-Bastogne-Liège on October 4 or rest up ahead of the Vuelta a España later that month.
"I'm always up there at the Vuelta but this year will be very different," he said of the race he won in 2009 and was second last year. "It's going to be cold, and so I think it'll be more complicated for me this time. My idea is to start, but we'll see with what objective that'll be."
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