Tour de France (st. 18)
Valverde takes Movistar Team’s most emotive victory in their 2012 season atop Peyragudes after epic effort from all telephone squad members, puts an end into 17 days of suffering into a Grande Boucle full of misfortune
Movistar Team had to suffer and fight until the very last Pyrenean stage in the 2012 Tour de France to find the success they were predestinated for at Liège’s start. Alejandro Valverde put the icing to a splendido teamwork from start to finish by the telephone squad atop Peyragudes, the finish of the 17th stage in the Grande Boucle with 143 kilometers and five categorized climbs. Already in the opening ascent to the Col de Menté (Cat. 1), Valverde, Costa, Plaza and Cobo made a breakaway group which, with Cobo dropping after a strong relay to create the break, was composed by 17 riders after the Cat. 2 Col des Ares, with a constant advantage of just two minutes over a peloton led by LIQ and SKY, which never made things easy for the escapees.
After a first move of three riders countered by Rubén Plaza, Rui Costa took command of the leading group at the first slopes of the Port de Balès (HC), opening a small margin over a quartet where Valverde awaited for the appropiate moment and later attacked, with 3k from the summit, to join the Portuguese and later take a solo adventure. Having a 2.30 advantage at the top of the climb, Valverde managed to keep his gap high into the descent and resist afterwards, into an agonic effort, against all the favourites to the overall win, firstly at the Peyresourde, and after a small descent, into the final ramps towards the finish, which he reached with barely 19 seconds over race leader Bradley Wiggins (SKY).
Valverde’s triumph -his fifth of the season after the ones in the Tour Down Under (stage), Andalucía (stage, GC) and Paris-Nice (etapa), the 23th from the Blue squad in 2012 and the 67th for the Spaniard in ten seasons as pro rider- rewards Movistar Team after suffering three abandons in the first week of racing due to crashes, as well as a severe burden for the six survivors, to get the situation bounced back and offered their best level in the crucial moment.
QUOTES / Alejandro Valverde: “I have been waiting really much time for this victory. It’s a really desired win, into a much hard stage and a really important one, and we could take it. I was really happy, I couldn’t hide my emotions. I have spent two years working for this. I came in really good form to this year’s Tour, but had much bad luck with crashes and punctures at the start of the climbs, so we had to stay away from GC aspirations and focus on a stage win. It was a real suffering: the stage became hard from the start. We never had a big advantage and the pace was strong all the time. I was a bit scared about the finale: I was a bit out of energy and the rivals were coming strong behind. I crossed the finish exhausted, but really happy. I want to thank all the team. Rubén, Rui did an amazing job at the break, but also the rest of the team and those who were supporting from home after their injuries. This victory is also dedicated to everyone supporting me, my family and my kids.”