Alejandro Valverde hits Giro podium to complete cycle
Turin witnessed Vincenzo Nibali’s celebration as winner of the 99th Giro d’Italia, the second in his career, following a wet 163km finishing stage from Cuneo, which Nikias Arndt (TGA) won into a bunch sprint. The day’s racing also confirmed a third place overall in the ‘Corsa Rosa’ for Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), in a more-than-successful debut in the race at 36 years old.
This third place in the Giro d’Italia makes Alejandro Valverde become the 16th rider ever to have stepped onto the podium of all three Grand Tours, just one short (8) from Miguel Indurain’s ‘national record’ of nine. The Movistar Team, which climbs into second place in the 2016 UCI WorldTour standings, has already claimed nine consecutive Grand Tour finishes within the best four in the individual classification -ever since the 2013 Tour de France-, six of them into the podium. Quite a streak for the only squad in this Giro to have placed two of their members -Andrey Amador was 8th overall- in the GC’s final top ten, three into the best 15 – Giovanni Visconti was 13th.
“It’s been a great Giro d’Italia for our team. We’ve worn pink with Andrey, won a stage, fought for some more with second and fourth places… and at the end, after so many sacrifices, we took that third spot overall. Personally, I’m really happy with how the season is going for me so far, and also to have claimed that podium finish in my first-ever Giro d’Italia”, said Valverde.
“We had many days of pure struggling, but we knew how to stand up, bounce back and get to the place where we wanted to me. I knew that after Corvara -a bad day for me, due to the altitude and difficult sensations-, there was still much to be ridden in this Giro. What normally happens in this race is that the final week turns so hard that changes can happen everywhere. Plus, all big favourites had at least one really bad day. That made things so exciting for the fans. My victory in Andalo was a huge relief for the team, and showed that we had recovered well from such misfortune.”
“All my team-mates, from the first to the last one, gave everything they had in store. Bad luck stroke us twice, early in the race with Javi Moreno’s abandon on stage five and later on with Carlos Betancur, who struggled for a whole week with his stomach really wasted, and had to leave the Giro two days before Turin. Those who remained here gave all they had, and the reward for such efforts was pretty beautiful.”
“I really liked it. I enjoyed so much to race here. It’s a race completely different to the Tour, more similar to the Vuelta a España, way more calm and with different stress to what you suffer from in France. Why not coming back next year?”
“This is for everyone who always relied on me and believed I could do well. For my family, my wife, my kids. Those who haven’ been able to join us here due to crashes, like Malori and Castroviejo. Plus, Xavi Tondo, who always remains in my mind.”
About his next goals: “My next big objective from now is mainly the Rio Olympics. We will go to the Tour in order to support Nairo Quintana. I want to make it clear, from this very moment, that I will be losing time on the first week and take things easier so I can help Nairo out and give my best in the mountains. Also, if it’s possible and it doesn’t compromise the team’s goals, I’d like to chase some stage wins or make it into the break and help the team from there. Our motto for the Tour remains the #SueñoAmarillo, winning the Tour with Nairo at last, and then, the Rio Games.”