Valverde – It’s Always Something

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I saw a few days ago that Oscar Freire is retiring at the end of this season and is hoping to make the Olympic team this summer for Spain, but he thinks it is going to be a challenge because Alejandro Valverde and defending Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez have already qualified. That seemed strangely weird to me since Valverde had not raced a bike in 2 years and had already been selected to ride the Olympics. Forget about his 2 year suspension for whatever. But, I suppose the Olympics is supposed to be a sprinters race and Valverde can sprint pretty well. At least he could 2+ years ago.

So then yesterday, Valverde won the stage of the Tour Down Under, the first Pro Tour race of the year, and is tied on time for first place overall, with only a curcuit race left. So, Jose Ivan Gutierrez, one of Valverde’s team mates states how great the result was and that their team, Movistar, was not going to contest the race and challenge Gerrans for the overall. Here’s the whole article at Here’s the quote from the article-

Gutierrez concluded with the assessment that Valverde will not contest Gerrans’ leadership during the final criterium in Adelaide on Sunday. “We’re not a sprinters’ team,” said the Spaniard. “In a one-on-one sprint, Alejandro would beat Gerrans, as he would beat Petacchi, Freire, Boonen etc. Probably the only one he wouldn’t beat is Cavendish. But in the middle of 130 riders, it’s mission impossible. GreenEdge has the perfect riders for criterium racing and they’re used to this kind of cycling in Australia. In Europe, we don’t have any. But that’s ok, we’re happy with what we’ve achieved.”

This is completely wrong on lots of levels. For one, if I were the promoters of the race, I would be pissed that it is announced in the media that one of the guys tied for first in GC wasn’t going to race for the win. Nothing discourages spectators and fans more than a race that has been decided before it happens. I know it is not breaking any rules not to try to win a race, but to me it seems chicken shit not to try when you are tied on time going into the last race. Especially a Pro Tour stage race. But, even if Movistar and Valverde have no intention of trying to win, they could tell Gerrans and GreenEdge that, but where is the upside to announcing it to the general public? There is none. Someone needs to sit down with Jose Ivan Gutierrez and tell him to not speak to the media when he is going to say silly stuff that really detracts from the race and from the sport in general. It is just a bad thing all around.

Photo: © Bettini Photo

I guess Alejandro didn’t put his feet up during his last two year time out.

9 thoughts on “Valverde – It’s Always Something

  1. Ted

    The upside is to get rid of the stupid criteriums. Maybe people like Valverde got into bike racing because of the endurance aspect of the sport, and couldnt care less of the short stages where there is little selection.

    And if you are organizing a pro tour race, please make it a pro race, not a criterium for kids! Why travel all the way around the globe to race a 90km race?

  2. seis pendejos

    If you look at the stage results on cyclingnews, Valverde finished on the same time as Greipel and the rest of the top 63 riders. There must have been a bit of a gap between Hondo and LL Sanchez as Sanchez was placed 16 seconds behind the winner and Geraint Thomas was placed a further second behind two spots down. But Valverde and Thomas were still tied on GC at the end of the race, so the crit must have been neutralized for the GC results. Perhaps that factored in to Gutierrez’s comments, either in disgust or disappointment. On the other hand, it was far more of a dead flat circuit than a crit at nearly 6 minutes per lap and not too many tight corners.

    P.S. Thanks for the link Steve.

  3. AP

    Valverde was a good all around rider before his suspension. He proves that he still has the ability to outkick someone at the top of a climb. Is it possible that a 2 year ‘rest’ has made him an even stronger rider? Obviously 2 years without racing will take something out of the legs in longer stage races, but at the same time having 2 years to train and not be worried about results and media obligations could be beneficial to the body of a 30 year old athlete.

  4. Phreddy McJuicer

    Ted…I could say the same thing about Time Trials. And so would real bike racers.

    Criteriums involve incredible skill, handling, power, speed and balls. It’s bicycle racing at it’s finest and is the ultimate crowd-pleaser.

    Time Trials are less-skilled and require power/pacing. Really great showcase of racing and cycling taents.

  5. Jose

    I’d be really curious to know how often a suspended rider is receiving out of competition testing. It seems a bit of a stretch (at least to me), that guys can come back from a two year break with both barrels blazing. Yes, its true that most pro’s aren’t exactly flying right now, given it’s january, but I’m still a bit shocked.

  6. DavidA

    And I will say it again about the only other sport that compares to Euro-PRO cycling is WWE or Smackdown….especially post-TDF crits and six-days….

  7. Rick

    Weren’t there some countries that announced that any drug suspension means a ban for life from that countries Oly teams? I guess Spain isn’t that serious about drug offenses.

  8. Rick

    The olympic road race has been very consistent over the years as a crap shoot. It’s always hilly enough that it never comes down to a large field sprint so sending a pure field sprinter is pointless. But it’s not hilly enough so a pure climber will win. With the team limit of just 3 riders from each country you don’t see much team work going on. It always seems to be won by a strong rider willing to take an all out chance at the right time. As a good sprinter and good climber, Valverde is actually a good choice. Cavendish is a lousy choice, has he ever won a race other than from a field sprint? Boonen seems to only react to others attacks anymore so he will never be solo off the front to win. Sending work h0rses, Mr consistent or pure sprinters is just the wrong approach. Send guys like Horner or Cancellara.


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