Just three weeks before he turns 41, Alejandro Valverde returned to the winner’s podium on Saturday when he won the 203.2km Miguel Indurain Grand Prix which started and finished in the Navarran town of Estella.

It was the veteran Spanish cyclist’s first victory in a year and a half and the first for Movistar in 2021.

It also showed that he is in good shape to tackle the grand tours once again.

“I am very happy for this win today,” said Valverde, who finished six seconds ahead of Alexey Lutsenko with his Astana teammate Luis Leon Sanchez in third.

“We knew it was going to be a difficult day. Astana was the strongest team and they had a great race, controlling it from the beginning.”

Valverde, who won this race in 2014 and 2018, showed his legs were staving off the rigours of age when he finished 12th in the Tour de France last September and tenth in the Vuelta in November.

Eleven kilometres from the finish, Valverde caught up with Sanchez who had been out on his own in the lead, and they were joined by Lutsenko.

The Movistar leader attacked on the last climb to the top of Eraul to take the victory.

Valverde, who served a two-year suspension for doping a decade ago, will compete in the Tour of the Basque Country this week.