Vuelta a Andalucia (st. 2)
After several failed attempts, Movistar Team claim their second victory of the season after the solo triumph by Valverde in Andalucía’s queen stage, take the leadership after impressive teamwork
He did not fail in his first opportunity at the Tour Down Under, went disappointed after the cancellation of the last trophy in the Challenge de Mallorca, and again Alejandro Valverde did not let out the chance to win in the queen stage of the Vuelta a Andalucía. The Spaniard rider from Movistar Team took home the squad’s second victory of the season via a superb performance through the climb of Santuario de Nuestra Señora de Araceli, ending point of the most awaited stage in the 58th Vuelta a Andalucía. With a very strong attack into the final 500m, including slopes up to 18%, Valverde also grabbed the race lead thanks to the 10-second gap opened over his nearest rivals, Denis Menchov (KAT) and Rein Taaramäe (COF), crowning the great teamwork by his team all day.
The telephone squad pulled at the front of the peloton along with Rabobank to reel back the solo escape by Frenchman Mickaël Buffaz (COF) and led the bunch through the beginning of the climb, first with the suffocating pace by Iván Gutiérrez and Vasil Kiryienka; then with a move by Beñat Intxausti, chased down with just over a kilometer remaining, and finally with the help by local Javi Moreno. Valverde is now in the lead with three seconds of advantage over Rein Taarmaë before the two final, complicated stages. The first one comes on Wednesday, with the finish in Las Gabias and the Alto de Malahá (Cat. 3) just 6k from the finish, and on Thursday, with the steep hilltop finish at La Guardia de Jaén.
QUOTES Alejandro Valverde:
“I’m tremendously happy and I want to thank all the team, because they were phenomenal from start fo finish of the stage. They got full support on me from the beginning and I could reward them back with the victory. To tell the truth we didn’t have planned to race with the leadership in mind, we were just going for the stage victory, because the GC was much complicated due to the short climb and the gap by some of our rivals on the overall. But I felt super strong, and with 400m to go I didn’t hesitate and went on full steam into a steep slope. I didn’t look back until the finish, and through I wasn’t thinking of it, we found another prize with the leader jersey. Now there are two hard stages, it’s going to be difficult but we already took home a win and everything coming after that will be a plus. I went a bit disappointed not to have a win in Mallorca and I could get off that flavor here. This is a very important win for me and the team, because we were up-front in all races but couldn’t get a win. I want to dedicate this to all the fans always supporting me, and most especially, to Paco Sánchez Sabater, my agent’s father, whom I wish to get well soon.”