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Alejandro Valverde extends deal with Movistar

Movistar extends contract with Valverde for three more years, indicating its faith in the 34-year-old's long-term prospects

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MADRID (AFP) — Spanish cyclist Alejandro Valverde has celebrated his third place finish in the Vuelta a España by signing a new three-year deal with Movistar on Tuesday.

“I am very happy. It is what both parties wanted,” he said in a statement released by the team.

There had been some doubt over Valverde’s future at Movistar as his position as the team’s lead rider has been rivaled by Colombian Giro d’Italia winner Nairo Quintana.

Indeed, prior to Quintana’s retirement from the Vuelta due to two heavy crashes, team officials had refused to confirm who has their main man.

However, Valverde insisted he had no thoughts of breaking his nine-year association with Movistar team manager Eusebio Unzue

“In the end this is my family and we understand each other. I feel better than when I was 25. The seasons seem shorter every year and I handle things better,” said Valverde.

“Maturity brings calm and allows you to see everything differently.”

And Unzue is confident Valverde still has plenty to offer at the age of 34.

“He is an irreplaceable cyclist,” the Movistar manager said. “There is no one capable of maintaining the concentration and willingness to win during the whole year [like Valverde].

“Although he has spent many years in the elite, the reality is he looks like he is in his 20s. He is a super rider.”

Former Tour de France winners Alberto Contador and Chris Froome proved too strong for Valverde, winner of the Vuelta in 2009, this year.

However, in the absence of Contador, Valverde will lead Spain’s quest for victory on home soil at the world championships in Ponferrada later this month.