At 39, he remains a marvel. The Roger Federer of his sport, still able to compete with the best of a younger generation and win.
At the Vuelta, he did not win, in the same way Federer fell a step short to Novak Djokovic at the 2019 Wimbledon. But for the Spaniard, second place overall was still an "incredible" achievement.
On the podium alongside him at La Vuelta, the winner Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), 10 years his junior and Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates) almost 20 years younger.
“I’m super happy, it’s something incredible after 16 years, so many years fighting at the highest level, and finishing second this time," he said after the finale in Madrid.
For Valverde, it was Vuelta podium number seven. He was also second in 2006 and 2012, third in 2003, 2013 and 2014 and a winner in 2009. He also finished third at the 2015 Tour de France and third again at the 2016 Giro d'Italia.
This time around there was also another stage win to add to the 13 he'd already accumulated. Beating the eventual race winner on his favourite terrain, a mid-mountain stage with a punchy finish.
Grand Tour titles usually define true greatness and while he may be missing the volume of an Eddy Merckx or more recently Chris Froome, his winning longevity will safely see him mentioned in that company.
For Movistar team boss Valverde is the gift which keeps on giving. A rider who races at the highest level year after year after year.
“It’s been long since we ran out of adjectives to value what Alejandro has done when we start such an overview," Unzué said. "He continues to surprise us despite his age.
"Taking second place again in a three-week stage race, notching up a brilliant stage victory against all GC contenders, riding so consistently throughout the three weeks - it’s so comforting to see him doing so well for another year and so great to be able to enjoy everything he does alongside him."
One of his many other victories was the 2018 UCI Road World Championship and now that the Vuelta is done and dusted he's focussed on the defence of that title as the Spain team captain.
For that, he will head to Yorkshire in the United Kingdom on a course that may not suit his talents. But it would be hard to bet against him as he continues to regularly beat time and younger men.
"We’ll have to see, it’s very complicated," he said. "You go there with the best intentions but we have to be realistic and we know the route suits other riders better than me but the main thing is to give it all.”
SBS will stream selected events from the 2019 UCI Road World Championships from 22-29 September on SBS On Demand and our website with live TV coverage of the women's and men's road races scheduled for SBS Viceland.