Alejandro Valverde has extended his contract with Movistar until 2021, when he will be 41 years old, with the Spanish team saying he will stay until 2024 with the team in an unspecified capacity.
The current world champion, who is set to line-up for the Tour de France with the team next week in Brussels, already expressed his desire to stay on as a professional until the 2020 Olympic road race, but hinted he could retire after the race in Tokyo.
Instead, Valverde will continue on until the end of the 2021 season, when he will have spent 15 seasons with the Abarca Sports group that has owned the team through their various guises.
The Spaniard is one of the most successful riders of his generation taking 125 pro wins, including four titles at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, five at La Flèche Wallonne, as well as stages in all the Grand Tours including 11 at the Vuelta a España, which he also won overall in 2009.
Valverde has also taken seven medals at the World Championships, with a long awaited victory coming last year in Austria.
He did however serve a two-year doping ban in 2010 and 2011 for his links to Operación Puerto, returning to racing in 2012 with Movistar, winning seven times that year including a stage at the Tour de France.
“I’m so happy with this extension. Everyone knows the Movistar Team is home to me,” Valverde said on his contract extension.
“I’ve always felt really loved and respected here, and I’m so happy to be able to stay with the team for the next two years. It gives me the calmness and confidence I need to keep working hard and enjoying bike racing.
“I will fight for new victories, as many as we can, and also help our team-mates to achieve big success wherever possible in the future.”
In 2017 Valverde’s career was nearly ended after he suffered a horrendous leg injury following a crash on the stage one time trial of the Tour de France. Astonishingly, he was back and riding better than ever for the new season in 2018, which peaked with his victory at the Worlds road race in September.
“We feel privileged to have enjoyed for so long the sporting and human quality of such a great man as Alejandro,” said team manager Eusebio Unzué.
“He’s brought us big success, of course, yet he’s offered us many lessons even when he’s not crossed the line first. His recovery in 2017 after such a serious injury in the Tour de France; his resilience to keep seeking for success after nearly two decades in the sport; and his affable character with everyone he’s worked with or come across, make them an essential person for us, a leader in and out of the races.
“Hopefully he can continue enjoy bike racing in these two years as he’s done during his whole career.”