After his retirement, the former cyclist from Murcia will be an element of cohesion in the Movistar team, with no specific role
He saw himself in a different skin, groomed in a dark suit, white shirt and matching tie, without the blue jersey or sportswear to wear, and Alejandro Valverde burst into tears like a tender baby. It is the first time in 18 winters that the Murcian is not on the podium as captain of Eusebio Unzué’s team. Movistar 2023 was presented and there were tears at the transfer of powers. The ‘Bala’, well yes, is a retired cyclist.
A video recalled the Murcian’s long career and he gave those in attendance a lump in their throats as they remained silent, blocked by emotion, a respectful silence fell for the champion who will not return. Valverde will remain with Movistar as a liaison, advisor, cohesion element or whatever he wants, and the lead will pass to Enric Mas, the second classified in the Vuelta a España.
The 2023 Movistar appears without the second sponsor Unzué wanted to compete against the big structures (UAE, Ineos, Jumbo), with the well-known budget (about 17 million a year), three signings (Colombian sprinter Fernando Gaviria, Portuguese climber Rubén Guerreiro and the young Valladolid time trialist Iván Romeo) and the women’s team led by the number one in the world, Annemiek van Vleuten.
In the course of 2022, the abyss hovered over this threat of relegation to the second division due to the lack of results and the UCI points awarded by the rankings of the various races. “There were very tense moments that flirted with relegation and they moved forward because everyone put in more than they had, the staff, the runners, everyone.”
Abarca Sports, the Unzué company that receives sponsorship from Movistar and distributes it to team workers, has been working to add a company affiliated with the jersey and has sought funding from Spanish Ibex 35 companies and in other areas such as Saudi Arabia. Arabia, where it is located. has signed a cooperation agreement with the cycling federation of the country. The money has not yet arrived.
Without the extra pay from a new sponsor, Movistar faces an uncertain transition. Valverde’s absence leaves a big gap in a formation that has become accustomed to soothing victories (133 in his entire career). But the Murcian is gone and nothing will be the same from now on. «The relay is in Enric Mas and the lead is also in Enric. We will continue to honor the brand,” said Eusebio Unzué.
“It was the end I dreamed of. I could have retired earlier, in 2021, but with the pandemic and the few people there, it wouldn’t have been nice. I really enjoyed it in this 2022, the truth is that it was a pity to leave, but I think we left a very good relay,” Alejandro Valverde said yesterday after the tears he shed during his first appearance as an ex-cyclist.
The witness receiver, Enric Mas, has other virtues, but not the charisma of the Murcian. Of course, his team clings to his excellent recovery from the fears in the descents of the Tour that he had to deal with psychologists and the excellent Tour of Spain that he completed together with a magnificent end of the course in Italy in direct duels with Pogacar .
“Eusebio called me first every day and I thank him for the help,” said Enric Mas. To be the leader of a team, you have to generate good vibes, that’s the key. My goal for this year is the Tour de France and my motivation is very different from other seasons,” said the Spaniard. Alex Aramburu and Iván García Cortina also have to take a step forward.
Source: La Verdad
I am Shawn Partain, a journalist and content creator working for the Today Times Live. I specialize in sports journalism, writing articles that cover major sporting events and news stories. With a passion for storytelling and an eye for detail, I strive to be accurate and insightful in my work.