Tour de France (st. 1)
Valverde takes 6th in Seraing after near-crash in the final 20k, leads Movistar Team’s performance in an action-packed first Tour road stage – crashes with no consequences for Rojas, Karpets, Costa
Movistar Team suffered from typical hardness in the Tour de France’s first week during the finale of stage one to Seraing, 198 kilometers starting at Liège and covered with a slow initial pace, but whose final run into the finish caused several incidents striking hard the telephone squad. With 23k from the finish, José Joaquín Rojas and Vladimir Karpets went involved into a fall that, despite several bruises all around his body -especially in his coxis- for the Spaniard and a strong hit in his hand and left side for the Russian, did not have any other effect rather than the time loss at the finish.
A near-crash few kilometers later took down, as well as Portuguese Rui Costa -with small bruises-, the Blue team’s leader Alejandro Valverde, who came into the front of the bunch with strong help by his team-mates just into the final climb to the finish. The overcoming by the Murcian granted him only a sixth place at the finish, behind Mollema (RAB), Gilbert (BMC) and the three riders attacking after the climb: Boasson Hagen (SKY), race leader Cancellara (RNT) and day’s winner Peter Sagan (LIQ). Valverde and his partners -Costa and Juanjo Cobo came across the finish into a second group, barely 20 seconds behind the leaders- will search for some more tranquility on Monday during the Grande Boucle’s first predictable bunch sprint, 207.5k from Visé to Tournai.
QUOTES / Alejandro Valverde: “After three years without riding the Tour, I barely remembered how dangerous this Race is during the first week, with much more tension than any other. We rode at the front for almost all day, but we suffered a couple of crashes in the finale and we had to put a feet a feet on the ground at the second one. We did a huge effort to come back in and we made it just before the climb. I spent the entire climb overcoming riders and with 500 meters from the finish I saw we were approaching the leading trio, and as I had good legs, I thought of attacking, but I went boxed in between the barrier and Gesink. Chances in the Tour come and go and it’s difficult for them to come back, but I’m happy with my feelings and the good legs I brought to the finish. From tomorrow it will be time for sprinters. There will be much nerves floating around during this first week, but we hope to stay away from crashes”.