Vuelta a España (st. 11)
Puncture at opening phase of time trial not avoiding great effort by Valverde in Tarazona; now 3rd overall after limiting losses with new GC leader Nibali (AST)
The quality of Alejandro Valverde came to the fore again in a critical moment of the 2013 Vuelta a España. The ‘race of the truth,’ the only individual time trial in this year’s Spanish grandtour over 39k in and around Tarazona, was about to spoil the Movistar Team leader’s chances when a puncture in his front wheel got on his way after just ten minutes of effort.
Quickly assisted by his team car, the Spaniard got back fast into racing mode and his will to keep progressing in the overall classification put him really close to Nibali -only 27 seconds down at the finish- and Roche (+4″) as he beat Rodríguez (-1.09) and former race leader Horner (-1.02) for an excellent 7th, just 1.52 behind Fabian Cancellara (RLT).
Valverde is now 3rd overall, forty-six seconds behind Nibali and just thirteen seconds after Roche after the day that seemed less favourable for his chances. The Murcian now looks in an optimistic way towards the big mountains, coming back on Saturday with the Pyrenean stages. Before that, two days of relative calmness, starting tomorrow with day twelve in this year’s Vuelta: 162km between Maella and Tarragona with the only climb of the Alt del Collet (Cat-3.)
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde: “It was a really great TT for me. I was pretty calm, confident about my chances. At the Haza Llana climb, I didn’t have a bad feeling – it was more a matter of distributing my energy well, I had trained a lot over that climb. That’s why I knew that I would be doing a good time trial if I had the legs, and that’s how it went. It took a bit for me to get on the pace, because the tracksuit given by the organisers was a bit too small for me and I couldn’t get well over the tri-bars. I was feeling the front wheel was a bit out of air since the very first kilometers – I was feeling uncomfortable, out of focus. After changing it, I was a bit nervous, couldn’t get the foot on the pedal and lost a bit more time. These things happen in sport, and once I fixed it, I got into my pace. Obviously it’s sad, because I could have been better, but it was a good TT from my point of view and all the mountains ahead are good for us. The first thing is recovering – they we will start thinking about the next stages and our race strategy.“