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Vuelta a Espana

Chris Froome on Alejandro Valverde: ‘He’s an inspiration’ for older riders in peloton

Froome impressed with Valverde's consistency: 'He can sustain a high level all season long.'

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REINOSA, Spain (VN) — Chris Froome is searching for his racing legs early in this Vuelta a España in what’s the final grand tour of former nemesis Alejandro Valverde.

At 42, the Spanish veteran is retiring at the end of this season, and Froome said the Movistar rider is an “inspiration” for aging riders in the peloton.

“It sets a pretty inspiring example for a lot of riders, especially some of the older guys,” Froome said. “It’s nice to see that it’s still possible at that age.”

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Valverde and Froome locked horns a few times across their careers, especially during the Vuelta each summer. Valverde would lead home team Movistar against Froome, who raced the Spanish grand tour each year after the Tour de France in a quest to finally win in 2017.

Froome, who was later awarded the 2011 Vuelta crown as well, said Valverde will be missed in the peloton.

“He’s been such a big part of Spanish cycling, and I am sure he will remain so in Spanish cycling one way or another,” Froome said. “I see a lot of young talent coming up. Guys like Carlos Rodríguez. Spain is not short of talent.

“It’s amazing to see peloton with the age spread it has at the moment,” Froome said. “We’ve got young kids coming in during their early 20s, performing at the highest level, and at the same time we have guys like Valverde, 42 years old, and he’s still up there fighting for victories.”

Froome on Valverde: ‘He can sustain a high level all season long’

Froome and Valverde, shown here at the 2021 Dauphiné, often locked horns. (Photo: Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images)

The 37-year-old Froome, who insists he has no intention of retiring, lauded Valverde for his durability and ability to perform across an entire season.

“I wouldn’t say I know him that well, but we speak a lot in the races,” Froome said. “He seems very down to earth, an approachable guy, and a good teammate, from what I hear from his colleagues.

“What’s always impressed me over the years about Valverde is how he comes into the season in February already winning races, and normally carries on right though until October still winning races,” Froome said. “He keeps an incredibly high level throughout the whole season.

“I have never managed to get my head around that. I’ve always had to pick my moments, but it seems like he can come in at a really high level and sustain that for eight months, which is impressive.”

Froome finding time for the Basque fans Thursday. (Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images)