LBL / La Rioja
A mechanical by Valverde in the decisive moment of Liège and a crash by Javi Moreno while making the front group in La Rioja -Sanz was 6th- overshadow a day in which Kiryienka shone in Belgium
A Sunday initially set with high hopes for Movistar Team in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Vuelta a la Rioja became a bad day for the Blues. At the Belgian classic, a mechanical failure suffered by Alejandro Valverde in the crucial moment of the race, just before reaching the summit of the Côte de la Redoute, ruined the chances by the Spaniard to do well. Despite his teammate Ángel Madrazo giving his bike to him, Valverde could not make the group again, completely split before the last climb with Visconti, Rojas and Rui Costa on front -the Portuguese rider was 17th-. Valverde’s group was also bad guided in a cross by the motorbikes opening the race, making impossible to bridge the gap for the Murcian, who went calm to the finish line along with Pablo Lastras.
However, the best performer from the telephone squad was Belarusian Vasil Kiryienka, on the breakaway with 80k from the end and until the penultimate climb, the Côte de La Roche aux Faucons, with 25k remaining. There, Vincenzo Nibali (LIQ) launched an attack that seemed decisive, but was neutralized into the final kilometer by Kazakh Maxim Iglinskiy (AST), winner over the Italian and team-mate Enrico Gasparotto, who led the first pursuit group just over a minute before a second bunch commanded by Rui Costa and also made by Rojas (26th), unexpectedly absent from the race’s official classification.
QUOTES / Alejandro Valverde: “When things go out this way, you can’t do anything. I didn’t have the best legs at Amstel and Flèche, but the sensations today were good. Just when entering La Redoute, Voeckler crashed, I was behing him and couldn’t avoid crashing myself. I got up fast, and came back to the group, but then I saw I had broken my back gearing. I had to stop and wait for Madrazo, who gave me his bike because the team cars were really far behind. We weren’t really far from the main group after that, but at a cross, the motorbikes before us took a wrong way. We could have bridged the gap, who knows, but our chances were already over, because I was riding with Ángel’s bike, which was much smaller than mine. It’s a bummer: things didn’t go well this week, but I’m really happy about this first part of the year. Now it’s time to rest for some days and start training after that to get prepared for the second part of the season, with the Tour as the main goal.”