Vuelta a España (st. 11)
Spaniard takes 4th in hilly time trial to Pontevedra -with Intxausti (5th) and Castroviejo (10th) into the day’s top ten-, ranks now less than a minute behind leader Rodríguez (KAT) into an even tighter overall
Movistar Team accomplished the expectations as they reinforced their chances for a great overall finish in the 2012 Vuelta a España after being the best squad on stage 11 in the Spanish grandtour, a technical 39km individual from Cambados to Pontevedra with the climb towards the Monte Castrove (Cat. 3) halfway through the route. Alejandro Valverde limited his losses with Contador (STB) and Froome (SKY), the strongest GC rivals in the discipline, and claimed a more than notable 4th spot, 1.08 behind Swedish Fredrik Kessiakoff (AST) after keeping the gaps low in the opening, more unfavourable flat route and making a great ascent.
The Spaniard’s performance was supported by great times from two of his team-mates, Jonathan Castroviejo, who led the standings for almost one hour after setting the best intermediate times in the beginning to take 10th at the end, and Beñat Intxausti, with a superb first part of the TT that granted him the 5th place, just one second behind Valverde. With Alejandro still in 4th overall, but now just 59 seconds behind Rodríguez (KAT), the race heads now into the snack of the three big mountain stages coming up from Saturday: 190km between Vilagarcía de Arousa and the Mirador de Ézaro, a real ‘wall’ with 1’9k on a 13% average.
Alejandro Valverde: “I had already stated this TT wasn’t bad for me, but even with that, taking 4th just behind Contador and Froome and find these good legs is something to be really happy. I think I did a sensational TT, even after not being able to find the best pace in the beginning. After that, I started to find myself better into the climb and kept going and going in the finale. We’re still into the fight, less than a minute behind the leadership even after the 55 seconds I lost at Valdezcaray. I don’t know if I’d be the race leader, but it’s not time to think about that: that won’t change, we must look towards the future and the important thing is that there’s still a long way to go with lots of good climbs. The stages coming up now must be the hardest, especially the Asturian ones. We must go day by day: tomorrow’s finish is good for me, but position will be essential and that will make it complicated. It’s being a really exciting Vuelta and we hope that strength stays at our side.”