Alejandro Valverde has racked up an impressive 92 race days in 2016, but the 36-year-old insists he won’t attempt to replicate his feat of completing all three Grand Tours next season, having discovered how hard it is to be competitive in all three.
The Spaniard put in some impressive performances in the three-week races, finishing third overall and winning a stage at the Giro d’Italia in May, finishing sixth at the Tour de France in July and then riding in support of Nairo Quintana as he won the Vuelta a España in September, finishing 12th himself.
Oleg Tinkov offered up a €1m prize a couple of years ago if the big name riders took on all three Grand Tours. None of them took the Tinkoff owner up on his offer, but this year Valverde discovered just how tough a challenge it is.
“This year I wanted to try, not to win, but to have the experience, but you can’t do well at all. I’ve been through it, and I do not think I will repeat it,” he told Marca.
“The balance sheet is very good,” he added. “I have raced all three Grand Tours, I won seven races, including the Flèche-Wallonne, and I finished third in the Giro d’Italia, with a stage win included. In the Tour de France I tried to help Nairo Quintana at all times and managed to finish sixth, and the Vuelta, despite being my third three-week race, I also was able help Nairo.”
Remarkably, seven riders compiled more race days than the voracious Valverde. Fellow veteran Thomas Voeckler tops the list with 95 days in the saddle for Direct Energie, with teammate Adrien Petit notching up just one fewer day.
Having targetted the Giro d’Italia, and completing his collection of Grand Tour podiums, Valverde turned to the super domestique role in the Tour and Vuelta, helping Quintana to second and first in the respective races.
“To participate in my third Grand Tour and win with Nairo and being a part of it, is very important,” he said. “It was a last celebration with the whole team, a triumph. I am very pleased to have contributed to this success.”