The Spanish men’s team arrived in Innsbruck, Austria, for the UCI Road World Championships a day later than planned after missing a flight from their altitude camp at Sierra Nevada, but veteran team leader Alejandro Valverde dismissed the delay had caused them any problems, and is convinced he can fight for the world title that has eluded him for so long.

Valverde leads a strong Spanish team that also includes emerging talent Enric Mas, who finished second overall at the Vuelta a Espana after Valverde’s hopes of toppling Simon Yates faded in the mountains of Andorra. The other riders in the Spanish line-up are Jonathan Castroviejo, David de la Cruz, Omar Fraile, Jesus Herrada and Mikel Nieve.

Spain will again race in their garish red and yellow colours on Sunday, making them easy to spot in the 188-rider national-team peloton.


Valverde, 38, has ridden the World Championships 18 times during his professional career. He won a medal as an amateur rider and has finished on the elite men’s road race podium six times – more than any other still-active rider – yet he has never pulled on the world champion’s rainbow jersey.

Like Captain Ahab in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Valverde has never managed to land his white whale. He was second as far back as 2003 in Hamilton, Canada, and most recently third in Ponferrada, Spain, in 2014, after also finishing third the year before in Florence, Italy, where he let then Movistar teammate Rui Costa of Portugal go clear.

Valverde is hoping he can finally add the rainbow stripes to his wardrobe in Innsbruck on Sunday.

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