Alejandro Valverde pulls out of Giro d’Italia

The world champion crashed while training on his birthday last month

Alejandro Valverde at the 2019 UAE Tour (Photo: Yuzuru SUNADA)

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Alejandro Valverde has been forced to pull out of the Giro d’Italia due to an injury suffered on his birthday.

Movistar rider Valverde had been due to ride the Italian Grand Tour for only the second time in his career.

But the Spaniard crashed while training three days before Liège-Bastogne-Liège, later abandoning the final spring Monument 100km from the finish.

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Movistar announced earlier this week that Valverde’s Giro was now in doubt, and on Friday (May 3) confirmed he would miss the race.

The team said: “[Valverde] has not been able to recover enough from his bone edema in the sacrum, which he suffered as a result of the fall while training prior to Liège-Bastogne-Liège last Thursday.

“The world champion will continue to recover without taking risks to resume his normal activity in the coming weeks, to face the second part of his 2019 campaign with renewed energy.”

Hospital scans carried out day after the Liège revealed the 39-year-old had suffered a build-up of fluid in his lower back following the crash.

He was due to ride the Giro with fellow Spaniard Mikel Landa.

Valverde, who celebrated his 39th birthday last Thursday, has struggled to find previous form so far this season.

He has taken just one stage win so far in 2019 – stage three of the UAE Tour – and does not have a general classification victory to his name.

By the end of April last year Valverde had taken nine wins, including three overall titles.

Last month, Valverde announced the date he plans to retire from professional cycling.

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He confirmed he plans to ride the Tokyo Olympics next year, then ride one more season before retiring in 2021.

The Movistar rider told el Periódico: “The plan is to retire in 2021.

“I will do one more season after the Olympic Games in Tokyo. I think that’s fine.

“I want to be at home and enjoy time with my family.”

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