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Valverde re-opens possibility of adding extra year to career

JEBEL JAISON UNITED ARAB EMIRATES FEBRUARY 25 Alejandro Valverde of Spain and Movistar Team during the 3rd UAE Tour 2021 Stage 5 a 170km stage from Fujairah Marine Club to Jebel Jaison 1489m First Hairpin 478m UAETour February 25 2021 in Jebel Jaison United Arab Emirates Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Alejandro Valverde at the UAE Tour (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Alejandro Valverde has revived the possibility that he may yet race on into 2022 with Movistar, saying it will depend on how the race calendar unfolds in the rest of this season.

A professional since 2002, Valverde had previously promised to pull down the curtain on his already very lengthy career following a fifth and final participation in the Olympics this summer and a last Vuelta a España in the autumn.

But now Valverde has opted to backtrack a little, telling reporters on Tuesday that he could tack on a 21st season to his career.

“If things turn out very dull, then I could add an extra year to finish my cycling career in a normal season,” Valverde, set to turn 41 this April, said.

“It [retirement] is not an definitive decision, let’s see how the pandemic develops.”

“This year is an Olympic one and it’s an important season, but right now in two weeks everything can turn around. We’re already focussing on the Games to reach there in top shape, but we’ve got to wait a little.”

Valverde was speaking at Spain’s  2018 National Sports Prize ceremony on Tuesday, an event traditionally held a year late, but celebrated this time round with even more delay because of the pandemic. 

He was awarded the title of best Spanish athlete, shared with snowboarder and Olympic medallist Regino Hernandez, for his 2018 World Championships victory.

Valverde has already taken part in two races this season, the Clásica Almería and UAE Tour, but did not shine particularly brightly in either. Valverde’s next race is due to be the Volta a Catalunya, a race he  has already won three times, in 2009, 2017 and 2018. He is then due to have a last crack at taking a record-equalling fifth victory in Liège-Bastogne-Liège, a race which he skipped last year and last won in 2017.

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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.