Valverde closing out season with rainbow jersey debut

Alejandro Valverde's post-worlds program includes Il Lombardia, a race that favors him, yet also one he has never won.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) didn’t win in his rainbow jersey debut Tuesday but he will have a few more chances in his post-worlds victory lap.

Valverde debuted the world championship jersey in Tuesday’s Tre Valli Varesine —Trek-Segafredo’s Toms Skujins took the win to Valverde’s 15th — and he will race through the week across Italy’s closing fall classics.

“It’s the best way to close out the season,” Valverde said. “We’ll have to see how I can handle it because I haven’t even disconnected after so much celebrating.”

The sometimes-controversial Valverde debuted his rainbow stripes at a publicity event in Spain before departing for Italy. Valverde chose an understated, simple white background with the rainbow stripes across the middle of the jersey.

“It’s an honor to wear this jersey,” Valverde said. “Let’s see if I can win some nice races in it and do the jersey proud.”

After his big win in Austria, Valverde added a few late-season events to his calendar to have a chance to race in the world championship jersey before the season closes out.

Valverde has yet to define his racing calendar for the coming season. He will again race with Movistar, as his contract goes through 2019. Based on previous comments, it’s likely Valverde will follow a familiar pattern through the spring classics to peak for the Ardennes classics before heading into the grand tours.

Valverde, who finally took the world title after winning six podium medals over the course of his career, will race at Milano-Torino on Wednesday and Saturday’s season-closer at Il Lombardia.

Despite Valverde’s one-day racing renown, he’s never won Lombardia. In seven career starts, he’s been twice second in the “Race of the Falling Leaves.”