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Rider of the week

When he wants, Alejandro Valverde can be one of the most exciting cyclists in the world. Problem is he doesn’t choose that path too often, opting instead to have a defensive approach in the key moments, which lead to to many missed opportunities throughout the years in one day-races, including the World Championships. On the other hand, the same tactic has helped the Spaniard establish himself as one of the best Classics riders of his generation, with some impressive results in his CV, especially in the Ardennes.

Actually, Valverde’s love affair with those Classics has started exactly a decade ago, when he had the opportunity to ride all three races and his best result was a 13th place in Amstel Gold Race. Once he got the taste of it, the one they call “El Bala” came back every single year and it didn’t take much to pull his first win, in the 2006 Flèche Wallonne, which was followed just a couple of days afterwards by Liège–Bastogne–Liège, a double that has helped him join the elite group of riders – Ferdi Kübler, Stan Ockers, Eddy Merckx, Moreno Argentin, Davide Rebellin, Philippe Gilbert – who won both races in the same season.

In 2015, he came at the start of the Ardennes week as one of the favorites, but people didn’t rate Alejandro Valverde as one of the main favorites, not even when he finished second in Amstel Gold Race. Things changed after Flèche Wallonne, where he controlled everyone on the steep gradients of the Mur de Huy, before unleashing a powerful sprint, which allowed him nab his third win there and equal the record held by such cyclists as Eddy Merckx and Moreno Argentin, real legends of the Ardennes.

After that success, it became clear that Valverde will be the man to beat in Sunday’s Liège–Bastogne–Liège, so people were expecting an aggressive ride from his rivals in order to put the 35-year-old Spaniard under pressure, with the hope that he’ll eventually crack. As this didn’t happen, it wasn’t difficult for the Movistar cyclist to manage the race, especially in the last kilometers, cover the attacks and eventually claim his third victory in “La Doyenne”, which helped him achieve the prestigious Flèche Wallonne – Liège–Bastogne–Liège double for the second time in his career, a performance only Kubler has accomplished in the past.

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2 thoughts on “Rider of the week

  1. Ciudata prognoza data de belgieni care erau siguri 700% ca va ploua pe parcursul Clasicei care pina la urma doar finalul a fost stropit. Cu stropitoarea. 😀
    Te citez: ” Nu merg pe Valverde, si anul trecut era favorit, dar a reusit sa piarda. ” Da, dar diferenta a fost aceea ca anul trecut si-a intrat repede in forma iar anul acesta d-abia in ultimele doua, trei Clasice pot spune ca a aratat ce stiam despre forta lui, inceputul de an a fost cam greoi de data asta.
    Este adevarat ca lui Alaphilippe i-au lipsit 10 metri in plus sa-l invinga pe Valverde insa si sprintul declansat de francez parca a plecat cu o idee mai tarziu ceea ce locul doi nu e chiar la indemana oricui. A fost puternic, mi-a placut. 🙂

    De multe ori Purito a pierdut teren la final tocmai ptr ca nu si-a imbunatatit sprintul de final pe plat, cu 50 metri inainte de final era pe 2 dar a rulat constant iar Alaphilippe a trecut ca o vijelie pe langa el, chiar nu i-a pasat niciodata de acest aspect care i-a adus numai dezavantaje ?
    O Clasica la fel de plictisitoare, noroc cu cazaturile care mi-au ridicat privirea din laptop ptr ca rulajul acela il mai vazusem in ultimele doua Clasice ( Amstel si F. Wallone ). Nu vreau sa stiu ce ne va astepta incepand cu 2017…

    • Nu am nimic cu Valverde, dar chiar am crezut ca adversarii sai vor face ceva ca sa il pacaleasca si sa il impiedice sa castige, insa au fost doar miscari timide, fara succes, iar cursa s-a transformat intr-o procesiune.

      Pe Joaquim Rodriguez nu il ajuta fizicul, eu spun ca a terminat bine pana la urma, uita-te cine a venit dupa el. Nu are sprint, tot asa cum nici Alberto Contador nu are sprint.

      Altfel, a fost o clasica urata, cea mai plictisitoare a anului, la fel ca in 2014. Un adevarat chin, de multe ori.

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