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No hometown heroics for Alejandro Valverde in retirement season

Valverde withdrawn from home race the Vuelta a Murcia this weekend as COVID precaution.

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Murcia won’t be rolling out its red carpet after all.

Team Movistar confirmed Wednesday that Alejandro Valverde will not start his home Vuelta a Murcia in his final pro season. The Spanish veteran has been withdrawn from this weekend’s one-dayer after he raced the COVID-stricken Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana last week.

“The team will not send any riders to the approaching Spanish classics that had raced the Volta a la Valenciana as a precautionary measure in view of the health situation, especially due to the positive cases registered in the team last week in Valencia,” read a press note.

The decision means Valverde will miss both the Murcian race that rips through his home streets Saturday and the new Strade Bianche-style Clásica Jaén Paraíso Interior on Monday.

“Very sorry for not being able to say goodbye properly to my home race, but all precaution is best right now,” Valverde wrote on social media.

He has won the Murcian classic five times in his 14 starts.

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Valverde finished fifth overall as part of a reduced Movistar squad at last week’s Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana after teammates Juri Hollmann and Einer Rubio both tested positive and left the race. Aleksandr Vlasov won the overall after a turbulent week that saw BikeExchange-Jayco, Jumbo-Visma and DSM all withdraw for COVID positives.

With just 10 months remaining in the pro peloton and a hot start to the season in his legs, Valverde will no doubt be busting to get back to racing.  Spain’s “green bullet” is next scheduled to race the Vuelta a Andalucia in the middle of this month before heading to Strade Bianche in March.

“He’ll be back soon!” Movistar promised.