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Giro d'Italia

Giro d’Italia: Alejandro Valverde says he’s too old for a GC bid

Iván Sosa will lead the team as he rides his first grand tour in over a year.

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Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) says that attempting to fight for the Giro d’Italia GC in his final year of racing would be too “difficult” for him and that Movistar’s undisputed leader will be Iván Sosa.

Valverde is set to hang up his racing wheels at the end of this season but says that he’d rather look at stage victories than try one last charge on the overall classification.

The 42-year-old talked up his younger team leader, who is some 18 years his junior, and said the Colombian needed to have more chances to lead.

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Valverde also reminded the press during Movistar’s pre-race press conference that the last person to ride the Vuelta a Asturias — and win it — ahead of the Giro d’Italia was Richard Carapaz when he won the overall title in 2019. He hopes that Sosa might be able to replicate Carapaz’s success, but he’d be pretty pleased if he made it to the podium.

“I want to have a good race, and for me to finish well would be to achieve a stage victory. The general [classification] is very difficult, because of my age and the three weeks of competition,” Valverde said. “I would like [Sosa] to have the option of being on the podium. He is motivated by the Asturias title — the last rider that Asturias won and then won the Giro was Carapaz — [and] I hope the same thing happens with Sosa. But if he is on the podium, we will be happy with that.

“Although he hasn’t done much racing in three weeks, we have to start letting him go and giving him races so that he can gain experience. Now we have to wait how he goes and that he doesn’t lose time.”

Valverde has ridden 30 grand tours during his career, abandoning only five of them and finishing the rest. Despite his prolific grand tour appearances, he only rode the Giro d’Italia for the first time back in 2016.

He hasn’t been back since and he wanted to make a second appearance at the race before he retired at the end of the year. He is also due to ride the Vuelta a España later in the season before finishing his career at Il Lombardia.

“In my entire career I have only done one Giro and I wanted to come back here,” Valverde said. “The Giro is a race that is not as demanding on the head as the Tour de France.

“I’m sure this is my last year, I’m not going on. Not because I don’t want to, but because it’s unnecessary.”

Sosa is riding just his third grand tour and his first in Movistar colors after joining the team over the winter. The Colombian didn’t ride a single grand tour during his final season with Ineos Grenadiers in 2021 and contested just 31 race days, failing to finish his final five.

Things are looking up for the 24-year-old after he took a solid overall victory at the Vuelta a Asturias earlier this month, following a win on the second stage. Though his grand tour record is not great, with finishes of 44th and 62nd at the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España respectively, his best performances so far, his form in Asturias gave him plenty to smile about.

“I arrive at the Giro with good expectations, I am motivated, and I hope to be in contention for the race. The Giro has a very tough route from the start, and we will have to see how the race goes, especially in the mountains,” Sosa said. “The last week will be decisive; it will be the most complicated.

“In Asturias, I felt myself getting better every day, that’s why I arrive at the Giro with a lot of motivation. I’m excited, together with Alejandro Valverde, we will try to do well.”