Saved from the rain
04 March 2012

Paris-Nice (st. 1)

Valverde gets ahead of weather affecting last starters, sets good time within the main favourites. Gutiérrez best Blue in 17th spot

The choice of Alejandro Valverde taking a very early start in the 9.4k individual time trial opener of the 70th Paris-Nice on Sunday was fortunate, considering the rain disturbing the performance by the last starters of the day. The race leader from Movistar Team, brilliant into the first two kilometers uphill -he set the 4th best time in the first col of the race at the intermediate point-, set a good time in terms of the race contenders, with Bradley Wiggins (SKY) and Levi Leipheimer (OPQ) as the best performers with just under half a minute over the Spaniard, who did not lose more than fifteen seconds against the other GC riders and took a good gap on Ivan Basso, Igor Antón or the Schleck brothers.

“It could have been better, but I’m satisfied,” said Valverde after the time trial. It’s true that I’m 40th on the classification, but we have to look at how many riders from the top of the leaderboard will contest the GC afterwards. We were right on departing into the first part of the field, not only for the rain, but also because I could get back to the hotel on the bike and gain some time to rest. It’s obvious that every second lost must be got back, but with all stages ahead and the bonus seconds, I think today’s won’t be significant gaps. I was one of the fastest through the col today and that confirms myself I’m in good form. The important thing is that we got through the day well.The stage and the first leader jersey went to Swedish rider Gustav Larsson (VCD), with Iván Gutiérrez as best Movistar Team performer in 17th before tomorrow’s first road stage: 185 kilometers from Mantes-la-Jolie to Orléans, with a bunch sprint in the air -bonus of 10-6-4 seconds at the finish and 3-2-1 at the intermediate sprints will be given-.