Paris-Nice (st. 3)
Spaniard delivers after impressive teamwork in the finale, takes Movistar Team’s 6th success of the 2012 season, earns 10 bonus seconds and jumps within 20 behind leader’s jersey
He doesn’t stop winning. Alejandro Valverde continues with his superb comeback to the world’s elite cycling in 2012 and took his fourth victory of the 2012 season after notching up the third stage of Paris-Nice, over 194 kilometers from Vierzon to the Lac de Vassivière via a 5-kilometer, 4% average, Cat. 3 ascent. The Spaniard delivered a win after an impressive teamwork show by all Movistar Team members, taking charge of the pursuit with 25k remaining with an ordered effort by Erviti, Gutiérrez, Kiryienka, Arroyo, David López, Javi Moreno and Rojas. With the sole help from his own legs, Valverde got to control the fury of the bunch in the final 500 meters to launch his sprint and resist a late rush from Simon Gerrans (GEC) to repeat the result from his particular duel with the Aussie back in the Tour Down Under in January.
Valverde’s victory, the sixth from Movistar Team to date in 2012, allows the Spaniard jumping into the sixth place of the overall classification still led by Bradley Wiggins (SKY) via ten bonus seconds -now sitting 0.20 back-, with Rojas in 8th spot. Another complicated finish will be tackled tomorrow, with 178k from Brive-la-Gaillarde to including five climbs, the last of those -the Côte de Bourran (Cat. 3), really short and close (2k) to the finish, the road always uphill until the finishing line.
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde: “Happy is not the word to describe my feeling; I’m more than satisfied, because I didn’t have the clear objective of aiming a stage win today, but things went right and I could profit. We also had the chance by Rojas, but we didn’t feel so good in the finale and did a great work for me when I rode against the win in the final 500m. I saw Gerrans’s wheel approaching at the sprint and that’s why I saved energy until the final meters to launch a final punch. After crossing the line I thought I had won, but I wasn’t really confident until the jury confirmed that to me. Just like in Andalusia, this fulfills entirely my expectations for this race and everthing after this will be a bonus, but it’s obvious that we’re doing well on front and have strong chances. If we fail one day, it won’t matter, but we don’t rule out anything. It’s going to be really hard because Wiggins and Leipheimer are before us on the GC, but with this team, you can aspire to everything. They were phenomenal again and this victory is for them. I’m the main who delivers it, but the victory is from everyone. It’s not just the work you see on TV, but the load they bear by taking me into the front, protecting me from the wind… it’s difficult to do it better.”