At around 134 lbs, Alejandro Valverde isn’t your prototypical cobbles rider. While he didn’t ride the Hell of the North last Sunday, Valverde was in Northern France on Tuesday reconning the final 113 km of Stage 9 which uses many cobbled sections from Paris-Roubaix. During the recon which he posted on Strava, he absolutely tore through some of the sections beating the times of the top riders in Sunday’s Monument.
Valverde and his Movistar teammates headed across sections fresh from use on race day. Valverde smashed across the cobbles instead of taking it easy ahead of the Ardennes Classics going faster on many sections than riders in Paris-Roubaix did. The 37-year-old was joined in his recon by teammates Nairo Quintana, Mikel Landa, Imanol Erviti, Marc Soler and Jasha Sütterlin.
During the recon, Valverde narrowly missed the KOM on three-star section Brillon on bested by Edwards Theuns time from 2015 but faster than anyone from the 2018 race who posted their ride on Strava. On the two star Avelin secton Valverde posted the second fastest time.
The four-star Sars-et-Rosières section was next where Valverde rode only two seconds off Niki Terpstra’s time from 2012 but still faster than the likes of Greg Van Avermaet. On the four-star Bersée sector, Valverde beat the times of Alexandre Kristoff and Wout van Aert.
On the famed Camphin-en-Pévèle, only Yves Lampaert and Tim De Clercq from the 2018 edition of Paris-Roubaix went faster than Valverde who posted the seventh fastest time on the sector showing his skills on the bumpy surface.
Valverde only rode one cobbled classics in 2018 with a strong 11th place performance at Dwars Door Vlaanderen showing more race savvy than many expected. Vincenzo Nibali’s skills on the cobbles in the 2014 Tour was a major advantage and helped him seal victory in Paris.
If Valverde’s recon ride in any indication, Valverde’s rivals at the Tour may be in for a surprise when the slight Spaniard hits the cobbled sectors during Stage 9 from Arras to just outside the velodrome in Roubaix.