Valverde during Stage 16 of the 2022 Vuelta A Espana, his final Grand Tour as a pro. Image: Sirotti Professional men’s road cycling appears to be entering a golden era, where there are no age limits and rather than one dominant figure, just like the Marvel superheroes, there is a cast, writes Anthony Tan.
When Alejandro Valverde rode his first Grand Tour, the 2002 Vuelta a España, he was 22 years young.
He didn’t do anything significant in the race. He didn’t even finish. Although he did manage to run fourth on the ninth stage around Córdoba before pulling the plug a week later on Stage 15, never making it to the top of the infamous Alto de L’Angliru. A younger Valverde crosses the line at Stage 10 of the 2005 Tour de France. Image: Sirotti That day was won by four-time Vuelta champion Roberto Heras, riding for Lance Armstrong’s US Postal Service team, who would finish second to another Spaniard, Aitor González. In fact, Spaniards took eight of the first ten places on GC, the other two by Italian riders.
Meanwhile, back in Aalst in East Flanders, Belgium, terrible two-year-old Remco Evenepoel was running around in his nappies. (I can relate; mine’s now three, and still simultaneously adorable/terrible.) “…Twenty birthdays and birthplaces two thousand kilometres apart, these riders are nevertheless worth comparing…” His father Patrick was a former professional cyclist, but regardless, Remco was at first more interested in a round ball than a spoked wheel, joining Royal Sporting Club […]
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