Vuelta a Andalucia (prologue)
Rain falling midway into the prologue in San Fernando unable to keep the Spaniard out of the win – 2nd success of the season for Movistar Team at Vuelta a Andalucía opener
With just four days of racing in what seemed a cautious appraoch to his 2013 season, Alejandro Valverde was still able to show his tremendous competitive spirit and ambition by adding a second victory to his tally. The Spaniard took honours in the prologue of the 59th Vuelta a Andalucía, held in San Fernando (Cádiz) over 6k affected by light rain midway into the race, which jeopardized the chances by the last men on course.
The moist pavement did not make Valverde lose confidence as he took two seconds on Slovenian rider Simon Spilak (KAT) and more notable time gaps between the main rivals for a GC he was already defending today after winning the race overall in 2012. The Movistar Team leader and his team-mates -also clocking good times with Gutiérrez, Quintana, Rojas and local hero Javi Moreno, all of them within 20 seconds off the first place- will take the jersey on their shoulders over three hard stages; the first one comes on Monday, with 164km between San Fernando and Ubrique featuring the Puerto de las Palomas (Cat. 1, 33k from the finish) and an uphill finish as main difficulties.
REACTION – Alejandro Valverde: “To be honest, I’m the first one who is surprised about this result; my condition was good, but I made the course 20 seconds faster than last year, and that’s a huge improvement. I knew the course and only watched it by car today; I didn’t do a bike recce, but I found good legs right from the start. This victory is important for my confidence, especially because it’s a time trial. That means the work we’re doing on the TT bike is paying off already. There’s still huge room to improve, but we’re on the right track.
We went through strong workloads during the winter on my TT position, I always train twice a week on that bike and that was important today. I feel more confident and calm this season – less kilometers of training than in previous seasons at this point, but having no pressure is doing well. We didn’t know what to do after Mallorca: Algarve, Haut Var, Andalucía – it wasn’t clear, because in this time of the year, it’s all about keeping the focus and searching for races that take a smaller effort, shorter routes, no long trips. My plan wasn’t coming here to win, but we have a great squad and some of my team-mates should be up-front here too. It will be a really tough race.”