• First among equals: Alejandro Valverde continues to set new career standards. (Getty)Source: Getty
Alejandro Valverde is arguably the greatest rider of his generation but what cannot be questioned is his versatility, durability and quality over the span of a 15-year career.
Cycling Central

21 Feb 2017 - 10:05 AM  UPDATED 21 Feb 2017 - 10:06 AM

The 36-year-old Movistar rider notched up a century of wins this past weekend at the Vuelta a Andalucía Ruta Ciclista Del Sol.

He joined Tom Boonen (Quick-Step Floors), Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) and André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) in a select group of active riders who have notched up 100 career victories but he's the only rider in that group to have won a Grand Tour (Vuelta a España 2009). 

Valverde is the most balanced bike racing package of his generation, a climber, rouleur and very good sprinter when called on to unleash a finishing kick.

"To be honest, I didn’t start thinking about victory number 100 until I won in Murcia last week," Valverde said. "There, I realisedd that it was only left two for hundred, and I knew that I’d be in great form for Andalucía, with two or three stages that suited my conditions. 

"In the end, it all went as if we had planned, with that stage win in Granada followed by the overall, making it exactly 100 at the end of the week. Now, what’s next? Well, if I may dream, I’d chase another Vuelta a España, and of course, the World Championships. I’m the rider with the most podium finishes, yet I haven’t worn the rainbow bands yet. That’s something I’m still dreaming of.”

“The most special win? I don’t know, maybe the first Liège in 2006? I say that because I had always dreamt to winning Liège, it cost us a lot, the team and I, achieving a victory there, also being the first-ever Spaniard to win Liège. That all makes it special.” 

His career encompasses 17 stage race wins, 21 single-day classics, 62 stage wins, six world championship medals, podium finishes in all three Grand Tours and UCI WorldTour end of season leader on four occasions.

“I had also been told at the race that only Boonen, Greipel and Cavendish had reached hundred in their careers. Those are amazing riders, through they’re all sprinters, who achieve lots of victories into bunch finishes,” Valverde said.

“Being able to make part of that group, if you consider that I’m a different type of rider, one who’s fast yet not a real sprinter, that has to make yourself proud. It’s always been difficult to achieve victories throughout my career, but I’d say it’s even harder to do so right now, because the racing has become really much controlled by stronger teams.

“That’s why I can’t believe I’ve achieved 100 victories. It’s so hard, even more so nowadays. Being the only Spaniard to have got that far in the last 40 years also proves how difficult it is. I had already beaten the record of wins in Murcia, now in Andalucía - it really boosts my morale to keep chasing records, and I’ll continue for as long as my legs allow me to do so.”