Vuelta a España (st. 8)
Spaniard takes his most spectacular win of the season in Andorra as he makes it three for Movistar Team in a dream Vuelta for the Blues -28 victories in 2012-, jumps into 4th
Alejandro Valverde jumped another step in an already unforgettable 2012 Vuelta a España for Movistar Team and obtained his second stage win at the Coll della Gallina, a Cat. 1 climb putting the end into the 174-kilometer stage eight starting at Lleida. The still-reigning heat and the furious pace from the start heading into Andorra -53km covered during the first hour of racing- made a hard race for the Movistar Team riders, always protecting his leader as the six-man breakaway at the front consumed before being reeled back just at the foot of the climb.
Valverde made the first selectiong of favourites under the big rhythm from SKY and launched the first attack before the last 3k, with Froome (SKY), Contador (STB) and KAT’s Rodríguez and Moreno following him while Beñat Intxausti -author of a beatiful ascent to take 6th at the finish- pushed his way always few seconds behind the first group. A move by Contador at the final kilometer forced Rodríguez to react in search for the finish, taking Valverde on his wheel before the final sprint, where the Murcian -69 pro victories- timed perfectly the efforts to claim his seventh success of the season and Movistar Team’s 28th so far in 2012.
Alejandro, now leading the KOM classification, sits now in 4th place overall, 50 seconds behind Rodríguez after a day where Juanjo Cobo struggled to find his best sensations and came across the finish, helped by Javi Moreno and Nairo Quintana, over five minutes after the leaders. Sunday will see the last day of racing before a long transfer into Galicia: stage nine will be a 194-kilometer route from Andorra to Barcelona, with the climb to Montjuïc (Cat. 3) just 3k before the uphill finish.
Alejandro Valverde: “It was a really hard stage, especially with the speed from the start to make the day’s break. SKY set a very fast pace during the final 40k and the beginning of the last climb was super strong. I had very good sensations and that’s why I launched the first attack, also with the intention of dropping GC rivals coming behind. From that moment on, there wasn’t any big gaps because all of us were suffering, until Contador attacked. I knew Purito knew the climb really well and we had clear in mind that we couldn’t climb so fast for long, so I sticked to his wheel when he jumped and went past him when I saw him sitting on the saddle. I knew I had to come through the last corner first and I could keep it until the line. This victory only does make me earn another win and keep making the team happy, I’m not thinking about anything else. It’s obvious that we will be fighting for the GC as much as we can, but the rivals are really strong and I don’t know who long I’ll stay this fit. I was the one from the riders ahead that has made more racing days, taken more efforts and staying for two years without competition. Now I’m into a fitness level I couldn’t have ever imagined and can only be thankful towards the team, always supporting me 100%, and everyone supporting me for things to stay like this.”
Juanjo Cobo: “It’s sad that my bad day in this Vuelta came during an important stage, but you can’t get your head spinning about it. I had had really good sensations during the start of the race: ending up all days with normal fatigue, good recovery, good sleep, taking care of my diet, but things came around this way. My feeling today wasn’t good from the start, with mild stomach pain from the start due to heat and the strong pace from the beginning. With such big time lost, I’ll be leaving out my GC chances and help Alejandro as much as possible. I must not come down as I’ll have a chance for the three mountain stages in the third weekend of racing. Let’s hope that I have good sensations there and the time lost helps me getting more freedom.”
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