Spanish rider from Movistar Team rounds off 15-year quest to for the top step of the Worlds podium.
15 months after a compound leg and ankle fracture in a brutal crash against a barrier on stage one of the 2017 Tour de France, Alejandro Valverde wrote the most beautiful page of his legendary career as a pro cyclist in another German-speaking city, Innsbruck, the capital of the Austrian Tirol. Valverde is finally the champion of the world. The leader of the Spanish national team, brilliantly protected by his seven team-mates, rode with immense composure, and only took a leading role in the race at the exact moment it was required. As Michal Kwiatkowski, Primoz Roglic or Simon Yates were already out of contention before that last climb, only seven riders were able to contest the victory on its slopes: Michael Valgren, who escaped from the bunch at the final ascent, Julian Alaphilippe, Romain Bardet, Thibaut Pinot, Gianni Moscon, Michael Woods and Alejandro, who got through the 'wall' with big patience while Alaphilippe and Moscon struggled to keep the group's pace.
A big, late effort from Tom Dumoulin to join the Woods, Bardet, Valverde trio, those leading the race through the top of the Höll, did not make for further moves in the run-in to the finish. Valverde was forced to take on a very long sprint, always leading the group, yet one that was fully worth it. Alejandro, atop on his Canyon fully equipped Campagnolo, claimed his 122nd pro victory, undoubtedly the most relevant, and sees his efforts being made justice as one of the sport's biggest legends, claiming a rainbow jersey after fifteen years, and six medals, in the Worlds' road race.
© TDW / Getty Images