Valverde returns. Bummer.
The Green Bullet is back — not the Silver Coors Beer Bullet, the Spaniard, the last Operacion Puerto scofflaw, Alejandro Valverde. (One Spaniard returns, one perhaps headed for suspension with Contador and CAS.)
Did you miss Alejandro? Many folks will say, hey, sure he hit the secret sauce and is an unrepentant liar and a continuing black eye for cycling but … but, I like his attacking style.
Well, Hell, didn’t we all? Twisted Spoke also appreciated the attacking style of Marco Pantani, Alexandre Vinokourov and Riccardo Ricco. Who doesn’t love a rider who shows no fear in launching an attack whenever and wherever? Someone with the ability to supply the fireworks and explode a race?
Do you miss Alejandro? Are you welcoming him back with open arms?
We certainly do appreciate the aggressive racing tactics but we also guess that what we were applauding was the pharmaceutical. That attack we admired was just a matter of illegal juice and the immediate separation he gained on that gradient was nothing but a prohibited substance.
Valverde is back with his old team and the party line at Movistar and with Valverde himself is basically what an injustice it is that an honorable career was interrupted. We call bullshit.
Ask Bob Stapleton, the man at the head of HTC-Highroad, one of the most successful and admired squads in cycling, what he thinks of Valverde. The shit-mist of doping was one of the major reasons HTC-Highroad couldn’t find one solitary sponsor to enter the sport and support a top team.
Ask Jonathan Vaughters what he thinks of Valverde coming back to the sport and what stories that tells about professional cycling? Vaughters himself, running arguable the cleanest team in cycling, couldn’t close the deal with French company BigMat as a second title sponsor. Valverde isn’t the reason that deal fell through but no team has an easy job securing a financial backer when people like Valverde are back in the saddle.
Sure, the man has served his time and by rights is free to return to the peloton. No argument there whatsoever. It’s just that the dirt is still so visible and with no interest in reforming or making any anti-doping statement, Valverde is a painful symbol of cycling’s enduring image problems.
Management at Movistar has made not one mention of his doping offense. Valverde has made not one statement of contrition or shown the smallest desire to act as a force against doping. He is the anti-David Millar. He hasn’t cleaned up and sees no reason why he should.
No doubt we’ll see Alejandro Valverde at the front of some races this year. For all his bravado and attacking style, we’ll wish he wasn’t there.