Spaniard back on the podium in home race: 3rd atop the Castillo de Lorca after great work from Movistar Team only succumbing to late attack from Navarro (COF)
Alejandro Valverde claimed his sixth podium in only eight days of competition on Saturday during the 33rd edition of the Vuelta a Murcia, the opening of two one-day races in southern Spain this weekend over 182km and five categorized climbs from the region’s capital city and up the Castillo de Lorca, including slopes up to 13% in its 1,500 meters partially covered by cobblestones. Spaniard Dani Navarro (COF) took the day’s victory after continuing a late seven-man attempt chased back in the final stages by a main group with a majority of Movistar Team riders.
The squad directed by José Luis Laguía held a rigid control into the first part of the race -especially with Cobo, Lastras and José Herrada- to limit time gaps with the day’s four-man early break, and five of their riders -Quintana, Rojas, Valverde, Plaza and Jesús Herrada- made the elite group after the two big climbs the Alto Espuña (Cat. 1) and the traditional Collado Bermejo (Cat. 1). Rojas would filter into a move in pursuit of Belgian Kevin Seeldraeyers (AST), finally aborted as the Murcian put full commitment with his team-mates for the final charge. Valverde, 3rd after Navarro and Dutchman Bauke Mollema (BLA), was about to complete the chase with his final rush.
Movistar Team focuses on the Clásica de Almería (182km, 12.30h) with a lineup headed by Spanish road champion Fran Ventoso as the squad’s main hope to close a brilliant opening month and a half of racing. Also competing will be Juanjo Cobo, Imanol Erviti, José y Jesús Herrada, Pablo Lastras, Javi Moreno and Iván Gutiérrez.