The Spaniard wins atop Old Willunga Hill after an impressive work by all Movistar Team rider. Alejandro jumps into 2nd overall with same time of leader Gerrans
Just one day after Movistar Team’s first-ever victory anniversary, thanks to Xavi Tondo in Argentina, the telephone squad opened their victory account of the 2012 season. The memory of Xavi was dedicated a triumph by Alejandro Valverde with a spectacular action in the Queen stage of the Tour Down Under, where the Spaniard, 20 months after his last success, completed an astonishing exhibition by the entire team through the 151km route in the fifth stage of the Aussie event.
Movistar Team crowned at Old Willunga Hill’s top an impeccable masterpiece by all their seven riders Down Under. Imanol Erviti led the group for more than 100 kilometers to control an early six-rider break earning 8 minutes of advantage; David López broke the bunch into the first of two ascents up the finish to be later assisted by José Joaquín Rojas and Iván Gutiérrez, leaving the lead group with just 25 riders, five Blues amongst them.
Valverde’s two other domestiques moved during the 3km decisive ascent. Firstly, Ángel Madrazo, who attacked with two kilometers from the finish, and then, Andalusian Javi Moreno -7th in the stage-, who did an enormous sprint leadout for Valverde, who overtook Gerrans (GEC) in the closing meters as the local claims the ochre jersey thanks to the overall points, but with the same time of the Spaniard. The race will be decided tomorrow at Adelaide’s East End (90km) with bonus sprints at the finish and at the two intermediate rushes in the final day of the Aussie race, the first stop of the World Tour schedule.
COMMENT / Alejandro Valverde:
“It’s been an excessive emotions, being able to show off all the fury I was keeping inside… I couldn’t resist to tears at the finish. To a sentimental value, I’d say this is the most special victory in my career. It’s been hard months of training at home, taking care of myself with no competition… and you remember all of that. This victory is dedicated to all the team, because they supported me 100%, and especially to Xavi Tondo. Also to all those ones who were always on my side. They know who they are. For my wife, my kids, my family.”
“I was anxious to come back racing and also looking forward to getting my first win. More than the pressure from the crowd, it was pressure from myself to get back in winning ways. I knew I was strong, but needed to see myself back up-front, and in this race I found myself better and more relaxed each day. This victory gives me total tranquility on this sense. I was desperately awaiting for it and I got it into the first real opportunity I had, so it tastes so good.”
“Not only since this morning, but since we came here to Australia, we knew it was going to be the key day. All stages were important, but this one was marked red. The team worked superbly. They all left us the responsibility from the beginning and Erviti was the one to control the break for many kilometers so the gaps didn’t get huge, before other squads came up to help. At the first climb, López selected the group, but there was strong headwind and it was difficult to split it. We knew that there were some kilometers of plain after the climb with crosswinds, and there Rojas and Gutiérrez were decisive and broke up the peloton even more. At the end, first Madrazo and then, above all, Javi Moreno did a great work. It was difficult for me at the sprint because I took the wide side of the last turn, but even though I rode more meters I had good legs and I could overtake Gerrans at the end.”
“It’s really difficult. For the moment, we’re going to enjoy this victory and whether we keep this position or not, we’ll finish this race happy. Obviously, if we can win, we’ll play all chances, but if we finish this way, I’m content with the result. We don’t discard anything, but we’ve got to be conscious it’s really hard and tomorrow is a special stage. It’s glory flavor what we have after what we did up to this moment.”