First podium finish after Worlds success
World Champion from Movistar Team offers big fireworks into two Superga climbs, finishes on podium of Italian race behind stronger Thibaut Pinot (GFC), Miguel Ángel López (AST).
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) honoured the rainbow jersey on Wednesday with spectacular attacks on the final section of the Milano-Torino classic (UCI 1.HC), the oldest race in the UCI Europe Tour, over 200km with two decisive climbs to the Basilica di Superga.
The marvel from Murcia created the first big selection in the bunch by himself on the first climb, with two brutal accelerations with just over 20km from the end with left the group down to about thirty riders. Despite ‘Bala’ going further ahead with a move that left only five riders together at the descent -including Miguel Ángel López (AST), David Gaudu, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Rafal Majka (BOH)-, the subsequent regrouping forced the Spaniard to start from scratch at the last climb. Another big move by Valverde helped him bridge back to the earlier attacks on the decisive Superga ascent, ‘Bala’ staying with 2km to go inside the decisive split with the two Groupamas, López and Jakob Fuglsang (AST).
A crash between López and Gaudu with 1.5km remaining helped Pinot open a gap over the Colombian and Valverde, who ultimately struggled to keep the pace yet retained a well-deserved 3rd spot. It’s the 24th podium finish this season -in 80 racing days, with 14 victories and no less than 39 top-ten results, nearly 50% of his competitions in 2018- for the rainbow jersey holder, who will try to put an icing to his excellent 2018 at Saturday’s Il Lombardia.
Alejandro Valverde: “I’m so happy to get to the podium of this prestigious race. I knew it would be hard to win and, since I was feeling great into the last climb, I tried to make the race explode and enjoy myself. If I really wanted to make a gamble for the outright win, I would have saved some energy for the end, but I came here to enjoy and offer some fireworks. No doubts about Pinot being the strongest today; it was sad, though, to see López crashing, because otherwise he’d have been up there with the Frenchman. Seeing how they both did, a 3rd place is more than good for me. It makes me confident for Saturday. We’ll try to do a good Lombardia; winning is never easy, even less so with such a hard profile and such strong contenders, but my legs felt well today and I hope to find this feeling again on Saturday.”
Picture (c): BettiniPhoto.net
- 01 Thibaut Pinot Groupama-FDJ 4h43'36"
- 02 Miguel Ángel López Astana Pro Team +10"
- 03 Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team +28"
- 47 Winner Anacona Movistar Team +4'28"
- 68 Marc Soler Movistar Team +8'48"
- 69 Antonio Pedrero Movistar Team +8'50"
- 77 Héctor Carretero Movistar Team +10'00"
- 86 Dayer Quintana Movistar Team "
- — Carlos Betancur Movistar Team DNF