Alejandro Valverde has signed a three-year contract extension with Movistar that will keep him at the team until the end of 2017. The 34-year-old joined the team, then known as Illes Baleares in 2005, and returned to the fold after returning from suspension at the beginning of 2012.
A new deal had long been touted for Valverde and he finally put pen to paper with Eusebio Unzue after finishing the Vuelta a España in third place overall, his sixth podium finish at the race in his career.
“I'm supper happy. This was just what we both wanted: Eusebio wanted me to stay, and I wanted to keep wearing these colours,” Valverde said in a statement released by Movistar. “At the end of the day, this is my home and we get on with each other well. I feel better than when I was 25; seasons seem shorter to me because I'm able to cope with pressure better. Being more mature makes you more calm and helps you see things differently."
In the absence of Giro d’Italia winner Nairo Quintana, Valverde led Movistar at this year’s Tour de France and finished in fourth place overall. All told, he has claimed 11 wins so far in 2014, including Flèche Wallonne and the Clásica San Sebastián. It has been Valverde’s most successful campaign since returning to action at the beginning of 2012 following belated suspension for his implication in the Operacion Puerto blood doping investigation.
"He's an incomparable rider,” Movistar manager Eusebio Unzue said. “There's no one able to keep as much focus and willingness to win through the whole season like he does. He performs just like the best and gives us lots of reasons to keep supporting him every day. Though he's spent so much time at the top, he shows us to be feeling like a 25-year-old. He's superb."
Valverde’s next competitive action will come at the world championships in Ponferrada next week. The Spaniard has claimed five medals at the Worlds over the years – silver in Hamilton (2003) and Madrid (2005), and bronze in Salzburg (2006), Valkenburg (2012) and Florence (2013) – but has never worn the rainbow jersey of world champion.
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