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What if your future self travelled forward 15 years in time to tell you that you would end up being number 1 in the XCO world rankings?

David Valero's career is unlike that of any other biker with whom he shares podiums in the World Cup. There is no set path to get to the top of sport, but some stand out more than others.

“I wouldn't believe it” The biker from the BH Coloma Team who ended 2022 as the top XCO competitor in the world according to the UCI rankings.

His relationship with bikes began in the most natural way possible. Baza, his birthplace and place of residence, has a lot to do with how he started cycling. A town surrounded by nature where, at just 12 years old, the bike became his mode of transport. It became his vehicle to escape and open up his horizons with his friends.

Those same friends got together to compete in their first races, local competitions in which fun was the only goal. There was no special ambition.

It was a time in which I learned a lot. I tried to fit it in whenever I could. I'd go training before I started work in the shop and I'd train a little more at the weekends. It's true that I sacrificed a lot of my holidays so that I could go to races.

I think it was a happy time. The thing I value most about that time is that now, when I go training, I don't find it as tough as other people. When you have to combine it with a job, it's very different. Turning my hobby into my job… makes me feel privileged.

If you are a race biker, the kind of person who sets aside hours from their day and their work to be able to train, eagerly awaiting the weekend so that they can compete, you should know that David Valero is one of your kind. He is fully aware of the sacrifices that must be made when you are seeking to combine work with competition. He even had to face a time in his life in which cycling took a back seat.

As you talk with David Valero it is easy to see that the person standing before you is positive about all aspects of life. “Working in a shop also helped me. I learnt how to tweak every part of the bike, although I'm a little rusty now because they do everything for me. I'd have to learn the ropes again if I wanted to return to the shop”, he explains, laughing about what was a highly unusual stage of his sporting career for someone who has just become the XCO World Champion.

It was during the previous phase of his career, in the under-23s, when he realised that he could shine on the national stage. “I had David Lozano setting the benchmark. He's my age and he was producing good races, even internationally. I reached a few podiums and competed in the Spanish championship as best I could, because I was working. I was at the Spanish Championship in Lorca (in 2012) when I realised that I could push myself more and try to improve.”

Competitively speaking, Valero grew in the shadow of an exceptional generation of bikers of the ilk of Jose Antonio Hermida, Iván Álvarez, Carlos Coloma...highly successful riders who he could have seen as a barrier to shining in Spain. But Valero is not the kind of person who gives up easily.

The day had arrived to make his debut in the World Cup. The year was 2013. 10 years ago now. He was in Andorra. “I started in 91st place. I was last, but I started moving up the places. And then came a pivotal moment for me. Kulhavy had just become the Olympic champion the year beforehand. And I was able to overtake him and finish 31st. It was an important moment, when I saw that if I did things better I could be go further. That year I went to another World Cup race in Hafjell, where the World Championship was held the following year, just to gain experience and see what the track was like in case I was selected. It was like a holiday, we turned up without knowing any English.

What are David Valero's strengths? “Perseverance” he says, without hesitation. And we are in full agreement with him.“And never giving up. It's like anything.There are always bad times and you have to know how to get through them as well as possible. And I always want to keep improving. I know that there are better riders than me, that they're more talented, but my secret is never throwing in the towel.”

We've already seen that David Valero is a consistent, friendly and modest athlete. The time has come to discover that he is also a highly tenacious sportsman. His duel with Nino Schurter at Nove Mesto 2017, the first great battle where he made the leap to the world stage demonstrates this: “I started the season knowing that I had a chance of reaching the podium. I knew that if I wanted to achieve this, things had to go well and at Nove Mesto I went out to give it my best shot and see what happened. I found myself at the front, I thrived, and even through I expended too much energy, I achieved my goal.” Competing with Nino Schurter for a victory in the World Cup, no less.

It has to be said that David Valero comes across as a modest person, even when he's recounting feats that are within the reach of very few people. An attitude that has been with him throughout his sporting career and was not changed by the arrival of his great international successes.

But if there is one race that defines David Valero, it's the Tokyo Olympic Games. “It was clear that, if I wanted to have any hope, things could not go badly. And that's exactly what happened. It went badly. I got a little lost…but I knew how to pull it back. I saw that I was feeling good and I hadn't lost too much time. I didn't know when I was going to get back in it, but I felt that a diploma was possible. That calmness allowed me to avoid the physical exhaustion of being at the head of the field. I was catching riders and growing stronger.” As we've seen, David Valero is a positive person… this is how you turn a bad start in the most important MTB race to your advantage.

“That's the way I am. You should never throw in the towel, whatever you're doing. Not in a race, not at work, not anywhere. You have to keep on working. If it doesn't go right the first time, it will the second.” His mentality is obviously one of his strengths.

An Olympic medal changes your life. Valero himself confirms this. “I've noticed a big change in terms of recognition. People now know me as an Olympic medallist. It has changed me, my family, and even cycling itself. Even the way I think. Winning an Olympic medal has given me peace of mind. I have little else to prove. I just have to keep on enjoying my bike.” Another display of a positive attitude. Of how to stay calm when under pressure.


With what he has achieved in 2022, Valero has reached the podiums of all major world XCO competitions. But he has unfinished business.

David Valero is also a biker with a remarkable schedule, he competes far more often than his direct rivals. But it all makes sense. “Rather than doing maximum intensity training at home, which is very mentally exhausting, I prefer to plan undemanding races so that I can travel and go for a ride. I take the opportunity to do quality training during the race, it allows me to score UCI points without becoming mentally exhausted with training.”

Remaining in the BH Coloma Team is also key. “If I feel good in a team, I don't like to change. I'm happy with the team and the equipment. And it's improving every year. There's a really good atmosphere and that gives me a lot of peace of mind.”

I never imagined that I could earn a living from cycling.One thing has led to another and I have achieved it.

We're going to add one more quality that describes David Valero. Honesty. “In my case, what really matters is not going to the Olympic Games, but being in good shape and doing a good job. My first objective is to get the two Olympic places for Spain, together with the rest of the riders. Then I'll see what the course is like for the Olympic event. I don't want to go to the Olympic Games just for the sake of it. It's about representing Spain in the best way possible.”

Discovering David Valero is discovering that you can reach the top through hard work, patience, perseverance and determination. We are sure that David Valero's path to the world elite has not been easy, so everything he achieved in what was an amazing 2022 is even more special now that we know what lies behind the world number one.