Chase the rainbow: Valverde Wins Worlds aboard the Ultimate
El Bala finally claims the one victory that has eluded him. The rewards: Worlds Gold, the rainbow tunic and a special edition Ultimate
Alejandro Valverde is a rare breed. While many ProTour riders are pigeonholed into a role (climber, lead-out, sprinter, domestique), there are some who can do it all. And we’ve seen him do it: from stewarding teammates Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa in mountain stages to grabbing onto opportunities to get into divisive breakaways that often result in support of a teammates’s breakaway effort, or even his own opportunistic attack.
It ultimately means the man called El Bala (the bullet) can win (and support his team) in every way imaginable. While Quintana (and to a degree Landa) get the headlines every July in France, Valverde is undeniably the glue that keeps Team Movistar moving.
And it’s taken a bike as versatile as he to deliver in all conditions, on all terrain. The Ultimate CF SLX has been his ride of choice. Light enough for Alpine climbs, sharp enough for serpentine descents, and quick enough to deliver him to a sprint finish in first.
The result of the 38-year-old’s ability is seen in the sheer breadth victories speak to that ability to win in any race. He has a remarkable 16 stage wins across the Giro d’Italia (1), the Vuelta a Espana (11) and Tour de France (4). Contrast that with the one-day monuments he’s won, including four victories at Liege-Bastogne-Liege and his five victories at Fleche Wallone.
Yet the results that don’t show in the stats are the times he’s led out teammates to their own victories, his efforts to close down attacks on teammates, or dropped back to drag team leaders back to the group after a flat tire.
Clearly, Valverde’s crown is bejeweled, making for an enviable racing career. But as Valverde saw it, it was missing a single jewel, one of Hope diamond magnitude: the World Championship. Competing 11 times in his career, Valverde had medaled six times, taking second twice and third four times. But he’d never won. Never once had that gold medal hung around his neck, that rainbow-striped tunic pulled across his chest.
The 2018 World Championships In Innsbruck, Austria, were considered to be the toughest in recent years, with nine climbs over 258 kilometers. It rewarded a rider who could climb over the sharp climbs and sprint when necessary.
On Sept 30th, Valverde put his years of experience to use. Following the French team onto the last climb, the group was whittled to three men including Valverde, with one more bridging from behind. After an early breakway attempt was shut down, it was left to a sprint. And in that instance, there were few in that group that could overcome Valverde. With a hand to the sky and his mouth agape in shock, Valverde finally had the victory he'd long pursued.
“It’s incredible,” Valverde said afterward. “Fighting, fighting, it’s a dream. I was saving it for the sprint and the truth is, it’s just something incredible. This has been a dream of mine to be a world champion.”
To celebrate his world title, we created a special edition Ultimate CF SLX for the champion. Partnering with Team Movistar partners Campagnolo, Fi:zi’k, Continental, LOOK, Lizard Skins, Elite and Power2Max, we commissioned three special edition Ultimate CF SLX. Valverde debuted his new ride (as well as his new rainbow striped jersey) at the Tour of Lombardy in mid-October. He'll be riding the same kit through the rest of the year and well into 2019. Congrats to El Bala: the bullet finally found its mark.