Vuelta a España (st. 9)
Movistar Team leader takes 2nd behind new GC leader Moreno at infamous slope of Valdepeñas de Jaén, climbs into 4th overall
The great pedal stroke Alejandro Valverde is carrying since the very start of the 2013 Vuelta a España was proven on Sunday at the uphill finish of El Chaparral in Valdepeñas de Jaén, with stage eight -over 163 kilometers from Antequera- offering a lumpy finale as the race climbed towards the Collado de Frailes (Cat-2) with just 15k from the finish. The Movistar Team leader crossed the finish in 2nd place behind an impressive Dani Moreno (KAT), jumping away into the first slopes of the decisive hill and taking some meters the Spaniard could not close. Good positioning from Valverde into the beginning of the climb was made possible by a great work from the telephone squad, solid as well in the flat as in the ascent prior to the finish, with attacks by Luis León Sánchez (BEL) and Edvald Boasson Hagen (SKY) neutralized by Herrada, Capecchi or local Javi Moreno together with Katusha.
Valverde’s tenacious effort was not overtaken by Joaquim Rodríguez (KAT), who sticked to his wheel in 3rd place. The latter’s performance, together with a time loss from some of the riders preceeding him in the overall, allowed Alejandro jumping into 4th overall, two seconds behind third-placed Vincenzo Nibali (AST) and twenty-second off the pace of new GC leader Moreno. The standings should still suffer several changes tomorrow in one of the most demanding stages in this year’s Vuelta: day ten, the last one until the first rest day, over 186km from Torredelcampo to the HC Haza Llana climb (16km at 5%, with maximum slopes of 18%), an unknown climb preceeded by the more classic Alto de Monachil (Cat-1). The Movistar boys will get into the Granada mountains in the lead of the teams’ classification.
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde: “It was a really hard finish and we could tackle it in the best of ways. The team worked hard into the penultimate climb to keep all attacks close, and Katusha also put some riders at the front to complete the chase. Dani went really strong, I hesitated for a bit, and when I wanted to react, it was impossible to get to his wheel. Dani is, together with Purito, the best rider in such finishes, an amazing rider – hats off to him, they proved to be in really great condition. It seems like the story is up to the two of them and myself in these uphill sprints, but there’s still a long way to go in the race. Even though Dani is also gaining time, we get some seconds day after day and we’re happy with that. The real mountains will start tomorrow – it will be quite a harder stage than the previous ones and we’ll see how we really feel.”