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The Movistar team has rewarded Vuelta a España podium finisher Alejandro Valverde with a new contract, extending the Spaniard’s time with the squad by a further three seasons. The 34 year old had one of the best years of his career in 2014, taking third plus a stage win in the Vuelta, netting fourth in the Tour de France and winning a string of events, including the Vuelta a Andalucia, Roma Maxima, the Vuelta a Murcia, Flèche Wallonne, the Clásica de San Sebastián and the national time trial championships.
He is currently second in the WorldTour classification and has a good chance of overtaking Alberto Contador before the end of the year.
“He’s an incomparable rider,” enthused general manager Eusebio Unzué in announcing the contract extension. “There’s no-one able to keep as much focus and willingness to win through the whole season like he does. He performs just like the best and gives us lots of reasons to keep supporting him every day.
“Though he’s spent so much time at the top, he shows us he’s feeling like a 25-year-old. He’s superb.”
Valverde had been in talks with the team for several weeks but things were only finalised more recently. He’s sharing leadership roles in the team with Nairo Quintana, who was second in last year’s Tour de France and won this year’s Giro d’Italia.
Both had top billing during the Vuelta but Quintana crashed out while in the leader’s red jersey. Valverde stepped forward and was able to take that third place, which is the sixth podium finish of his career in the race.
He has been with the team setup since 2005, being with it through its various incarnations. He said that remaining part of the squad was always his big goal.
“I’m super happy,” the Murcian said. “This was just what we both wanted: Eusebio wanted me to stay, and I wanted to keep wearing these colours. At the end of the day, this is my home and we get on with each other well. I feel better than when I was 25; seasons seem shorter to me because I’m able to cope with pressure better.
“Being more mature makes you more calm and helps you see things differently.”
Valverde will be part of the Spanish team in the upcoming world road race championships, where he will be one of the favourites. He previously finished on the podium on five occasions, but is yet to win it.