"It does hurt" - What the 'Bala' Alejandro Valverde truly feels about retirement

Alejandro Valverde has officially retired from pro cycling. 'Bala', as he is nicknamed in his home country, has put on a strong performance at Il Lombardia at the level he was expected to ride at, and has had mixed feelings over his decision.

“I feel excited about the future, but sadness for leaving with this great level," he told reporters after crossing the line. "Also happiness, for the enormous work that the team has done today all day and to be able to fight." Movistar Team took control of the race today in Italy, however more towards the ambitions of Enric Mas who was on a tremendously strong day, and went on to finish second.

“It was a very good race. We had Enric in the front and I in the back. I devoted myself to checking the men sitting there. I am satisfied with today," Valverde said. Not having been able to keep up with the attacks on Civiglio, Valverde didn't crack and stayed with the chasing groups through the final climbs. He won the sprint for sixth place, raising his arm as he crossed the line following a strong result.

"I am leaving Lombardia with enthusiasm for the future," he admits. “But it does hurt a bit to say goodbye in this way, with the great level that I have. However, I am especially happy with the great team performance that we have shown again. We fought to the end and every rider worked for ten.”

The veteran will now take up different roles within pro cycling, and will have much to say over the course of the coming weeks. For now however, it is the time for the Spanish team to celebrate what was a long and successful career.

“I am happy to have completed 21 years as a professional and I have enjoyed all the great things. Now we are making way for young people, in the hope that they will also have as much fun in this great sport," he concluded.

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