Movistar's Alejandro Valverde is a film star of cycling and won't ride off into the sunset just yet

Matt Jones - Editor 22:59 25/02/2018
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Alejandro Valverde is victorious on Stage 5 of the Abu Dhabi Tour.

Reaching the pinnacle of sport is something few of us can relate to, and it elicits such a special feeling that it can be difficult to turn away from.

That feeling can work against you though and there are plenty of examples of stars who clung to the high of competing that little bit longer than they should have.

Jerry Rice is the greatest wide receiver in NFL history, but played in the league until he was 42 and suffered the ignominy of being traded to the Seattle Seahawks in his final season.

Likewise, Michael Jordan. The greatest basketball player of all-time could have had the perfect end to his NBA career in 1998 as he led the Chicago Bulls to their third-straight title and sixth in eight years. Yet he couldn’t let go and tarnished his legacy when he came back for an ill-fated stint with the Washington Wizards from 2001-03.

Staying too log in the saddle is not something that Alejandro Valverde can be accused of just yet though.

At 37 and having crashed out of the Tour de France last July after a fall which left him with a broken kneecap, many wondered whether the Spaniard veteran’s 16-year cycle in professional cycling had finally run its course.

Most would be content with the long list of accolades he has collected – among them the 2009 Vuelta a Espana crown, four Liege–Bastogne–Liege titles and five La Fleche Wallonne trophies.

Any lingering doubts as to whether the Bullet should have pulled the trigger on his days at the top following his abrupt end to 2017 have been answered emphatically in the early months of 2018.

Victory in Abu Dhabi yielded a second title of the year after his Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana triumph last month, while his ascent to the No1 spot on Jebel Hafeet was his third stage win of the year.

Movistar man Valverde is right to chase his dream Hollywood hurrah. But on this evidence there are still a few more scenes remaining before this film star of cycling’s credits begin to roll.

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