Jensie looks back on Valverde’s Worlds win and an action- packed inale to a great season
Well, we’ve all been waiting three years for a new world champion. But that’s nothing compared to how long Alejandro Valverde has been waiting. I don’t know how many podium finishes he’d had before [six - Ed], but it was a lot. So when he crossed the line first in Innsbruck, it was obvious that he couldn’t believe it had finally happened. There was pure joy and happiness and even a little disbelief on his face.
I am sure that’s got to be the most emotional victory in his long career, out of more than a hundred wins. And it was well deserved that day. He played his cards smart, he had the support of his team and he also had a little luck on his side. Those things can all be the difference between winning and losing. But the race was won before the final few hundred metres. Compared to the other three riders in the breakaway, it was clear who should win if it came to a sprint.
To me, Michael Woods was the biggest surprise. He has had some solid results before, but getting a podium place at the Worlds was pretty amazing to watch.
The women’s race was pretty exciting as well, but in a different way – there were such big gaps between the top riders. It was an epic battle by all the women who finished the race. And that about half of the peloton did not finish shows that it was a hard race all day. The peloton, or what was left of it, finished over eight minutes behind the superb winner, Anna van der Breggen, who took the title with an impressive solo.
And the last big rendezvous of the season for the men was the Giro di Lombardia or “Il Lombardia” as we call it now. The defending champion, Vincenzo Nibali, was just getting back in the right shape after the terrible crash he had during the Tour de France, where he suffered a broken vertebra. He wanted to repeat his 2017 victory and came oh so close, but was beaten by the French rider Thibaut Pinot who took his biggest ever win. He was smart enough to follow Nibali’s wheel when he went,
"It was obvious that he couldn’t believe it had inally happened. There was pure joy and happiness and even a little disbelief on his face"
and he was able to drop Nibali and solo 14km to win one of the hardest oneday classics in style. Nibali saved a very good second place to finish his season with a little highlight and in a promising way for the next season. And don’t forget, he didn’t win here, and his Tour was obviously disappointing, but he still won Milan-San Remo this year in brilliant style.
With Romain Bardet coming second at the Worlds and Thibaut Pinot winning the last big one-day Classic of the year, the French showed us once more to never count them out. They’ve had a pretty good campaign, and in all kinds of races – stage races and one-days.
It was a little more of a quiet month on the British side of cycling, but hey, after winning all three big tours with a different rider in the same year there is no reason to complain, right?! British cycling must have had one of their best years in history and there is no reason to expect anything less for next year. 2018 is almost done, and I can’t wait for the next season already.
Jens Voigt retired in 2014 following an 18-year career as one of the sport's most loved and attacking riders. He held the Hour Record for 42 days. Commentators never did agree how to pronounce his name.
Jens could see all kinds of emotions on Valverde's face when he won the Worlds