Next Sunday, October 8, the second edition of the Gravel World Cup will be held, a race in which this time we have an important card to step on the podium and, why not, rise with the precious rainbow. It is none other than Alejandro Valverde who, after his retirement as a professional from the route, has thrown himself into this exciting gravel discipline.
When Alejandro Valverde announced his retirement from professional road cycling last year, no one doubted that the man from Murcia would continue to be involved in the competition in some way. He can’t help it, it’s in his genes, as his teammates from the famous Murcian group that Valverde is responsible for turning upside down at every start must often suffer.
And one of the options that former road professionals are choosing the most is none other than gravel. Racing without the stress they had to deal with during their professional years and allowing them to do something different from the cycling they practiced, but not so different that it was an insurmountable handicap.
Alejandro Valverde started his new path in gravel for all it is, in the first Review of the UCI Gravel Series, The Indomitable, in which he clearly prevailed. Nor has he spent much time in competition, although, as he has stated in some statements, he has included in his training more gravel trips through some of the coolest corners of Murcia such as Sierra Espuña.
Later in the season, we saw him again at a UCI Gravel Series event, in this case the Gravel Ranch where he once again imposed his tremendous class. Finally, just a few weeks ago and with his sights set on the 2023 Gravel World Cup, he took part in the gravel Review held at the fair Be Otter Europe in Girona
Despite the class he treasures since many place him on the crossbars as the clear favorite to win, Valverde does not get carried away by the euphoria and is honest, indicating that, despite the good feelings, it is not the same to compete in general than to do it at a professional level. In fact, for the Murcian, the top favorite to win the 2023 Gravel World Cup is none other than Wout van Aert. Indeed, he you hardly give yourself a 5% chance of winning.
With a view to the preparation of this race, Alejandro contacted Alessandro de Marchi, a Jayco-AlUla cyclist and a good connoisseur of the area, who explained to him that the route has a lot of unevenness, demanding climbs and several areas techniques
Indeed, it is this point, the technique that cost him the most in adapting the road to the gravel as Valverde himself confesses, although he admits that he has improved in this aspect throughout the season.
In any case, Alejandro Valverde who traveled in the company of another ex-professional, Darío Gadeo, he has already been in Italian territory for a few days in order to be able to recognize the most important sections of the layout, it proves that, despite the fact that he tries to take the pressure off himself by shaking the favorite vitola, the Murcian has conscientiously prepared the 2023 World Gravel Championship and, for sure, we will see it close to the places of honor.