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by Shane Stokes
October 7, 2014
Following confirmation Monday that Alberto Contador, his sole challenger for the 2014 WorldTour title, won’t ride the Tour of Beijing, Alejandro Valverde’s Movistar team has said that he too won’t make the trip to China for the final event of this year’s series.
Contador was leading the standings after winning the Vuelta a España but dropped out of the lead on Sunday when he crashed in the finale of Il Lombardia. Valverde had a much better race, finishing second, and ended the day with 686 points, 66 more than Contador’s total.
With 100 points available to the winner in Beijing and Valverde willing to travel to defend his title, Contador knew he had a fight on his hands. However a knee issue arising from Sunday’s crash meant that he declared he wouldn’t travel anyway.
This news was followed by the announcement that Valverde would follow suit.
“Due to sporting reasons and as a result of his recent fatherhood, which already made him not travel to Italy from his homeland Murcia until Saturday evening to race Il Lombardia yesterday – where he finished in second place – Alejandro Valverde won’t ultimately take part in the Tour of Beijing, the last UCI WorldTour race of the season starting on Friday and whose individual classification is already secured for the Spanish rider of the Movistar Team,” said his team in a statement.
“Italian Eros Capecchi will replace the telephone squad’s leader in an eight-man roster completed by 2013 title holder Beñat Intxausti, German Jasha Sütterlin, Italian Giovanni Visconti, Colombian Dayer Quintana and Spaniards Pablo Lastras, Enrique Sanz and Jesús Herrada.”
Valverde’s final WorldTour points total puts him almost 70 points ahead of Contador. Australia’s Simon Gerrans (Orica GreenEdge) is third on 478 points, with Rui Costa (Movistar) fourth on 398 and Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) fifth on 392.
Valverde won the WorldTour’s predecessor, the ProTour, in 2006 and 2008.
Also see: Valverde set to win WorldTour competition as Contador confirms he’ll miss Beijing [link]