Vuelta a España
Confident after their three victories in the first nine days of the Vuelta, Movistar Team enjoys a well-deserved first rest day in Galicia, excited about the great fitness level from Valverde
While their auxiliary staff completes the long road transfers -1,200 kilometers between Barcelona and Pontevedra- with the team vehicles, the nine Movistar Team riders enjoy their first rest day in the 2012 Vuelta a España on Galician soil. The telephone squad, including DS’s José Luis Arrieta and José Luis Jaimerena, arrived into the Parador de Pontevedra at late night yesterday after a flight that landed at the Vigo airport around 10 PM local time. The telephone squad, which made a one-and-a-half-hour ride this morning, will tackle from tomorrow a decisive week in the Vuelta, with the 40k individual time trial on Wednesday and the trio of mountain stages for the next long weekend (Ancares – Lagos – Cuitunigru). Relaxed and calm after three stage victories earned up to the moment (the team time trial in Pamplona and the two successes by Alejandro Valverde at Arrate and La Gallina) plus the excellent condition shown by their leader -now 4th overall, 1.07 behind race leader Joaquim Rodríguez (KAT)-, Movistar Team will search for more victories -28 up to date- to add to their brilliant 2012 season.
Alejandro Valverde: “The overview until this point is really good, as well for myself as for the entire squad. The important thing is that we ended this first stint of the race with good feeling, we’re still into GC contention and, above all, already with three stage victories that leave us very satisfied after this first week. I knew I was going to be strong, but not in such a good fitness level. Sensations are still good as we head into the halfway point of the Vuelta, so we must profit from this moment for as long as possible. This doesn’t change anything about what I said at the start of the race, and seeing that I’m here and as long as strength goes with me, I’ll keep fighting for the GC. The problem is where I’ll get to, because I’ve spent so much time on good form. The other three riders on top and myself are all close and that was visible at every important stage. At one day, there’s one of us that’s stronger that the rest, but we all are quite equal to each other, and we must keep it this way. I have much respect towards Froome, Purito and Alberto, but no fear whatsoever, and as well me as the team will make everything that’s at our side to keep the winning streak alive.”
Eusebio Unzué: “With the two victories by Alejandro and the team time trial, the overview from this first week is magnificent for us. The most surprising one might have been the victory in the TTT, but I can assure that we worked for that. The two wins from Alejandro could have been more predictable because we knew that, should he be feeling well, they were clear winning chances, and with those he confirmed his great fitness and, above all, his willingness to triumph. We must carry on with Alejandro, but as we stated from the beginning, we must see how he does day by day, because he’s already done 70 racing days and that’s quite a big thing. We must keep cautious because we can’t rule out any signs of exhaustion showing up at some point.”
“In theory, as well Froome as Alberto are a step ahead, especially on timetrialling, and the doubt is who of them will be stronger there. Purito and Alejandro must be a bit down that day, but I hope it to be just that, a little bit, even though the big mountains seem to be the decisive factor in this race. Contador is the one coming fresher from all four, without racing for the last months, and the normal thing is that he gets better and better. For me he has an advantage over the rest and is still the main favourite. The summary from the race up to date is the spectacularity of the stage and balance between riders as a main factor. We have four men that proved to be ahead already in Arrate and which confirmed it day by day. That said, we can’t forget that these stages weren real high mountain ones, with those coming on the next weekend. That, together with the ITT on Wednesday, will be the moment to assess what’s the real difference between the favourites.”