Vuelta a España (st. 21)
Movistar Team crowns superb Vuelta a España with three stage wins, the overall 2nd place by Valverde -winner of both Points and Combination jerseys- and the teams’ title as they become the only squad to win in all three Grand Tours in 2012
The traditional triumphant march for the winners across the streets of Madrid -with the also-traditional mass sprint at the end, won by Degenkolb (ARG)- put an end into a spectacular 67th edition of the Vuelta a España, which crowned Alberto Contador (STB) as overall winner and Movistar Team as the best squad in a race where the Blues took a leading role from start to finish. From the unforgettable victory in the opening team time trial in Pamplona and the three days in the leader’s jersey for Castroviejo and Valverde, through the stage victories from the Spaniard in the climbs of Arrate and La Gallina plus his second place in the race’s final podium -Intxausti was 10th-, to the teams’ victory, the eight from Eusebio Unzué’s structure in 33 participations in the race, and the two Points and Combination jerseys conquered by Valverde via his 6th place in Madrid. The exceptional performance from the nine riders directed by José Luis Arrieta and José Luis Jaimerena allows Movistar Team closing the season as the only team in the world to have won in all three Grand Tours (Ventoso and Amador claimed stage triumphs in the Giro and Valverde did the same in the Tour before the three successes at the Vuelta) and increases the telephone squad’s score in Blue, with stage victories in all six GT’s completed since last year.
OVERVIEW – Alejandro Valverde: “I’m really happy with this second place, though deducting the time lost at the crash I’d be just twenty seconds behind Contador, but we can’t stay thinking about it because my Vuelta overview is fantastic. Maybe, if I had been closer, the strategy would have been different, but all in all, I can’t complain. We weren’t coming with this very objective to the Vuelta and we ended up in second, so I have to stay really satisfied. The squad was perfect for all three weeks, and I have to thank them from the first to the last one. I wouldn’t have obtained this podium without them.
“It was a spectacular Vuelta. The crowds were massive and that’s a pleasure for all of us. The fight between us three was fantastic and the rivals I had to face, with the best rider in the world on Grand Tours and someone who was already about to win the Giro this season, make this second place even more important. It might not seem like that, but I ended this Vuelta with much ambition and I’m excited to go for the Worlds. After such hard stages, I feel willing to do well and I think I can. Winning is so difficult, but I think I have the legs to be there. The next week will be almost committed for full recovery. It’s better to rest well rather than making hurt on myself, and then doing some good training in the week leading to the road race.”
OVERVIEW – Eusebio Unzué: “Except for the overall victory, the rest is almost impossible to beat. We got three stage wins, all of them really special, even though the team time trial, which was held in our home city Pamplona, was exaggerately emotional. Leaving race circumstances aside, the team’s behaviour was really good from start to finish. Only Cobo, whose health was not the best, couldn’t keep his fitness level, but the rest was great, with a confirmed Nairo, a mature Intxausti and excellent team work from the veterans. Alejandro is back to his best level and I think he could well have been the Vuelta’s winner. It’s obvious that those 55 seconds lost in Ezcaray were a burden that conditioned our way to move around and made us take less risks. All three podium finishers could have been the winner.
“It was a spectacular race due to equality amongst the big guns, including Froome through the first part of the Vuelta, and above all, the most remarkable thing is the fans coming back to the roads and cycling surging back through the audience. A Vuelta with a great winner and a great podium. While the TTT in Pamplona was emotional for us, getting over the podium in Madrid as team winners is something really important because it is the most beautiful thing we can offer to this sponsor. I think we deserved it and I’d like to dedicate it to our president, Mr. César Alierta, and all workers at Telefónica.”