13-05-2016, PROSPORTS forza canyon
EL IMBATIDO: VALVERDE'S LIFE ON THE ROADS
As far as nicknames go ‘El Imbatido’, Spanish for ‘The Unbeaten’, is about as good as they come. When you earn that title at the age of 13 after reportedly winning 50 consecutive races, it’s hard to imagine living up to the hype. But at 36 years of age and countless more wins to his name, Alejandro Valverde has done just that and he’s looking to do it again in his first ever appearance in the Giro d’Italia.
It’s May 2016 and the 99th edition of the Giro d’Italia has just gotten underway in the Dutch town of Apeldoorn. At 4:48 PM, Alejandro Valverde, mounted atop his brand new Speedmax CF SLX, rolls down the ramp on to the ten kilometre course for the prologue time trial. In this case, brand new is no exaggeration. The Spanish National Champion only received the TT bike the day before.
“It is situations like that where you really see Alejandro’s professionalism“, says sprint legend Erik Zabel, the Team Liaison Manager at Canyon responsible for Movistar Team. “When he can tell that the bike is good, he starts using it straight away. Most other cyclists require a long time to test out a new bike before using it in an important race.”
Afterwards, the Movistar Team captain confirmed that choosing the Speedmax CF SLX for the time trial was a good decision: “I had a great feeling about the new Speedmax. It’s stiff, balanced, incredibly fast and of the best-looking bikes that I’ve ever ridden.”
The Perfect Time Trial Weapon: The Canyon Speedmax CF SLX
Only a Number: Valverde Races First Giro at 36
This April, Alejandro Valverde turned 36 years-old. He raced in his first Grand Tour, the 2002 Vuelta a Espana, 14 years ago. Since then he has ridden in 18 different Grand Tours, somehow always evading the Giro and the race for the Maglia Rosa.
“Obviously, in the past it has crossed my mind to compete in the Giro, but until now it has never really fit into my race calendar. Typically, the Tour, the Vuelta and the Classics have always taken higher priority.” says Valverde. However, reaching the end of his career, he now believes that he’s accomplished all that he can in those races, but the Giro remains unknown and full of opportunity.
Forza Canyon! Four Weeks. Four Deals. Don’t Miss Out!
One of the Greats
With 78 professional wins to his name, Valverde is one of the most successful riders of his time. In comparison, cycling legends like Bernard Hinault, Johan Museeuw and Fausto Coppi all have fewer wins on their resumés. And Valverde’s not finished. His contract with Movistar Team goes on through 2017.
On his long list of victories, the classics stand out the most: Four wins at Fléche Wallonne, three at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and two at Clásica de San Sebastián. Add two wins at Critérium du Dauphiné, a victory at the Volta a Catalunya, four Tour de France stage wins, nine Vuelta stages and the 2009 overall victory, two silver and four bronze medals at the World Championships, two individual overall titles in the UCI ProTour and another two in the WorldTour rankings and you have a cycling career that is second to none and it still isn’t over.
In fact, in 2015 at the age of 35, Valverde had his strongest year ever. On top of victories at his favorite races, obliterating the field on the Mur de Huy at Flèche Wallonne and riding to the win at Liege-Bastogne-Liege, he also accomplished his childhood dream of climbing on to the podium at the Tour de France.
Celebrate six consecutive Canyon wins at Flèche Wallonne with our new Mur de Huy T-shirt.
Valverde: A Life on the RoadsA
Valverde has cycling in his DNA. He lives and breathes it. His natural talent as a racer and tactician have kept him at the top of the ranks through nearly his entire career. He can climb with the best, but still somehow has the finishing speed to throw down in a sprint. That deadly combination manifests itself in his signature ability to accelerate up some of the steepest grades in cycling. It is a talent that drops jaws and can dispatch even the best Puncheurs.
“His riding style, his natural instincts and his racing intelligence are incredible”, says Vicente Belda, Valverde’s coach during his years on the team Kelme. “More so than other cyclists, Alejandro has great intuition during races and is able to make snap decisions in a fraction of a second. It is a talent that is hard to teach, it has to come naturally.”
Valverde’s Ride: The Ultimate CF SLX
Zabel: Valverde is a True Leader
Alejandro’s excellence on the bike is paralleled in his character. “It’s really nice to work with him” says Zabel. “He is very receptive to new innovations and is always staying up-to-date with regard to the newest materials and technology. In spite of his success, he is still really down-to-earth. Outside of racing, Alejandro is one of 28 riders on a team, he isn’t arrogant and doesn’t expect any special treatment. Whether it’s where he sits on the bus or the room he gets at the team’s hotel, he expects to be treated like the rest of his team.”
On the other side of the coin, the 36 year-old is also ready to work as a Domestique, occasionally riding into the wind for his teammates, like last year when he was ready to sacrifice his race to get Nairo Quintana the yellow jersey.
Valverde Takes on First Giro d‘Italia
Supporting Young Cyclists with the Valverde Team
Further evidence of his character is his support of young cyclists. With his project Valverde Team, the father of three works to make bike racing more accessible to young people and to help teach the values of the sport that he has relied on over his career: discipline, determination and belief in oneself. It is Alejandro’s way of giving a little bit back to the sport that he has received so much from over the last 20 years.
El Imbatido and the Legend of the 50 Wins
As a kid, Valverde played football like all the other good Spanish boys. Fortunately, his father Juan, who was an amateur racer in his day, gifted his son his first bike at the age of six and the rest is history. As a nine year-old, Alejandro would get second in his first race in the town of Jumilla, not far from his home in Murcia, Spain.
In the following weeks, the young Spaniard would compete in another race in the nearby town of Yecla and take home his first win. Over the next few years, legend has it that Valverde won every single race he competed in. Between the ages of 11 and 13 he became a local legend by reportedly winning 50 races in a row, earning the nickname of El Imbatido or The Unbeaten.
Since that prodigious win streak, the cycling community has given Valverde a few more nicknames. ‘Bala’ or ‘The Bullet’ and ‘Balaverde’ – ‘The Green Bullet’, both allusions to his devastating kicks at the end of races.
Pro Cycling at Canyon
What the young Alejandro displayed that can still be seen in the current world class athlete is an absolute dedication to the sport. “I love my job. Cycling is my passion. I still get goose bumps from it“, says Valverde. “Once my career is over as a professional, I think that I will probably just keep riding bikes every day. It will be nice to just ride and not have the constant pressure of having to perform at 100% in every race.”
But Valverde still has a mission to accomplish before his career is over: Win the Giro d’Italia and bring the Maglia Rosa back to Canyon and Movistar Team.
Forza Canyon! Four Weeks. Four Deals. Don’t Miss Out!