Movistar Team shows its potential, causes first blackouts within GC favourites at the Monte da Groba; Valverde -5th at the finish- gets into top ten overall. Roche (TST) claims day's win
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After a fine performance on Saturday’s team time trial, Movistar Team proved again to be one of the most powerful blocks in the 2013 Vuelta a España in the first of a long list of mountain-top finishes: the Cat-1 Monte da Groba, end of a 177-kilometer stage starting at Pontevedra. The telephone squad took control of the pace on the bunch from the very beginning of the climb, with Erviti, Gutiérrez or Lastras leading out Alejandro Valverde into the first 2k of the ascent, chasing down the three members of the day’s early break -Aramendia (CJR), Rasmussen (GRS) and Henderson (LTB)- and leaving the pace-making on the shoulders of an excellent José Herrada.
The Spaniard was responsible for an impressive rhythm throughout the climb, helped at times by a notable Sylwester Szmyd, together Moreno as Capecchi as Valverde’s bodyguards before all sights were put on the Murcian when four riders jumped with 2k remaining for the stage victory: König (TNE), Pozzovivo (ALM), Moreno (KAT) and eventual winner Nicolas Roche (TST). Behind, the Movistar Team’s leader took the 5th place, winning two seconds over Vincenzo Nibali (AST) -new race leader as Brajkovic dropped halfway through the ascent- and climbing up to 8th overall as the likes of GC-favourites Henao, Betancur or Samuel Sánchez bonked.
Monday will bring another hilltop finish, yet easier than today’s mountain: 185km are scheduled on the way from Vigo to the Mirador de Lobeira (Cat-3; 4km at 5% avg.) in Vilagarcía de Arousa.
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde: “In the end, it does leave you a bit of sour taste when you couldn’t fight for the stage win, but it wasn’s the main goal. I felt strong, the team made a great work and we have to stay happy with it. It worries only a bit seeing Nibali taking red so early – this Vuelta is so long that everything can be won or lost in any single stage. Tomorrow’s will be another good day for us, a stage a bit longer than today’s where we will have to stay attentive.”