Alejandro Valverde: “Knowledge allows you madness” | sports

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Alejandro Valverde, last Friday at school 42.
Alejandro Valverde, last Friday at school 42.

It is assumed that Calderón would not mind if in 42, the technological and disruptive school of Telefónica, they decided that their slogan was something like “all life is code”, such is the objective of their students, collaborative programmers without a teacher who seek compress everything created and everything that will be created in a few lines of code. Also the sweat and soul of the cyclists who, like Alejandro Valverde, perhaps practice, more than anyone else, what could be called the ancient sport, of fatigue, endurance, agony, struggle and unique landscapes. But Valverde himself, who wears the shirt of Movistar, the team of the Spanish technology giant, knocks on the door of 42 and sits there as if it were his home for a lifetime and talks to his students, most of whom are young. that they could be his children, as they could be the youngest of the squad in which he lives and commands for 20 years.

The Spanish cyclist with the 130 victories is close, five months away, to turning 42, and he will turn it on April 25, just the day he will compete in the Liege-Bastoña-Liege, the classic that he wants to win for the fifth time , “Like Eddy Merckx”, and that, of course, constitutes a unique password to open the door of the school that has the same number as it teaches, irony and homage to the cosmic joke of Doug Adams, the comedian who in his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy informs the world, through the voice of your computer Deep thought and his 7.5 million years thinking that the ultimate answer to the enigmas of the universe, of life, of everything, is that, 42. And for Valverde, 42, a number adored as magical by many fans, it was even now simply the number of teeth on the small chainring of the bicycle in its early years.

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Like Valverde, in any case, he is well known as a refractory person towards what means a decrease in instinct, intuition, the voice of the body, and it is well known that he does not even use the heart rate monitor in the race so that the data of his heart does not influence their decisions, no one disdained the possibility that the school audience experienced a generational clash between zoomers, digital natives born almost in the 21st century insolent, and an almost boomer old fashioned. Well no. More than confusion it was, last Friday, November 26, it was a morning of fusion. Valverde is something more than what he seems, he always surprises. He is not the overworked veteran who tells young people to see if you think you have invented cycling.

“What if young people think they already know everything?” Valverde responds to an insidious question. “There is everything. There are some who do, who come believing themselves to be the best. But there are very young people, and I admire them and they admire me, with whom I share the peloton, and they with me, it is something beautiful. I feel older than them, but maybe just physically, but mentally … My head still thinks like when I was 23 years old. When it comes to behaving, talking to them, I don’t speak as if I am older than they are, I speak as if I am their age. I also try to teach them everything I know. Pogacar, Evenepoel, Van der Poel… They are great talents and they want to win wherever they go, like I did when I was young, and now too. What happens is that now many times I am satisfied and I do not suffer as much to win as they can. My body is older, I can take 20 years out of them, they could be my children, but from the head it seems that the years have not passed ”.

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Valverde is the young man, half Dorian Gray and half Peter Pan, who does not renounce being a child, who is fascinated that now, before a time trial, the team’s technician tells him that given the distance, the wind, his aerodynamic coefficient, the temperature, the development, the cadence and the watts that it is capable of developing and maintaining for a certain time at a defined heart rate, but prefers to go as usual. Or the one who is told how to train specifically and methodically by looking at the watts at all times, and prefers to doubt.

“Am I the veteran who already knows everything? Yes and no. The veteran, myself, has had a way of working for many years, and changing it now may or may not have a benefit, and many times it is even a detriment, because he is not used to that line of work, “says Valverde after submitting. to the questions of the students, future programmers. “But young people, if they already come with that way of training, with so much data, they get more out of that, because it is what they have experienced since they were little. I have also tried to change my training routine, go to the specific, to the watts, and it has not been better for me. Many times I have been worse ”.

Valverde, and his cycling generation, happen to be excessively calculating, to move only when they are sure that what they do will be fruitful. Meanwhile, these times of zoomers, The madness that is called ancient cycling is praised, precisely the epic, the daring of cyclists who, like Pogacar, Van Aert, Van der Poel, Evenepoel, and even Roglic and Egan Bernal, attack apparently insulting calculation, disdaining fear. to err. As if they despise the head. “But it is the other way around, maintains Valverde, who has already announced that next, his 21st season in the professional peloton, will be the last, and that he will hang up the bike after riding Giro, Vuelta and select classics. “It is training like robots, and eating weighing up to the grams of olive oil that they add to salads, which allows them to release their instinct.” “Precisely because of that, because they know, by marking their watts and their speed, how far they can go if they launch an attack. They already have it trained, they train like that ”, adds the cyclist who was proclaimed world champion in 2018, at 38 years old. “Other runners can’t do it because they don’t have the quality, they can’t develop those watts. But when you’re good and you know you can do it, and you start and go because you have the power, you do it. And it is the knowledge that allows them to be crazy ”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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