Valverde presented by Illes Balears
After all of the talking, griping and more talking, Alejandro Valverde is finally presented to the p
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE After many months of speculation and negotiation, Alejandro Valverde can now look forward to his marriage next weekend to his long-time girlfriend Angela safe in the knowledge that he has a deal signed, sealed and delivered with Illes Balears. The 24-year-old rider from Murcia was presented to the Spanish press on Monday morning by the president of the Balearic regional government, Jaume Matas, less than 24 hours after winning his last race in CV-Kelme colours, the Hospitalet criterium. Valverde has agreed a three-year deal with the team whose junior affiliate he spent a season with. He is set to earn 1.2 million euros in the first year, 1.4 in the second and 1.6 in the third. He will also be joined at Illes Balears by his friend and CV-Kelme team-mate Jos Cayetano Julia. Although Valverde agreed a deal to join Illes Balears two weeks ago, his transfer could not be confirmed until negotiations between Illes Balears and CV-Kelme had resulted in a significant reduction in the buy-out fee the latter was demanding. Set at two million euros, a figure of 750,000 has been widely reported as the final amount paid by Illes Balears to secure Valverde. Although Illes Balears team boss Jos Miguel Echavarri has refused to give details about Valverde’s calendar for next season, it is also being widely reported that he will ride the Tour de France for the first time. This gives Illes Balears a boost in their attack, with Valverde slotting in beside Paco Mancebo, who was third in the recent Vuelta, and Vladimir Karpets, who was the best young rider at this year’s Tour. Speaking at the presentation, Valverde said he was joining a “focused team that has its eye on every prize”. Valverde, who won 15 races during the 2004 season, confirmed he will be one of the team leaders at Illes Balears “but Paco Mancebo and Vladimir Karpets are also there, they are good friends of mine and there will be no problem between us because we get on very well.” He said of a probable first Tour appearance: “I will go there to learn because you can’t expect to go there the first time and win it. That’s impossible. I will go to learn and after that anything is possible.” * Read the full story about Alejandro Valverde’s rise to the top of the sport by those who know him best in the November issue of procycling on sale now in Europe and North America.