Vuelta a España (st. 20)
Spaniard (3rd) makes final show of constance and experience across infamous L’Angliru, stays in Vuelta a España’s final podium before Sunday’s triumphant march to Madrid. Elissonde (FDJ) wins stage; Horner (RLT) claims overall
Squeezing his regularity in all kinds of mountains to his best in the country’s hardest climb, Alejandro Valverde took a decisive step to the overall podium of the 2013 Vuelta a España in Madrid. The Movistar Team leader finished in 3rd place atop the Alto de L’Angliru (HC), end of stage 20 over 142 kilometers starting at Avilés and the previous ascents of Cabruñana (Cat-3), Tenebredo (Cat-2) and the demanding El Cordal (Cat-1) before the last climb. The pace was always high, right from the first kilometers after a 32-rider breakaway where Imanol Erviti and Beñat Intxausti kept the Movistar Team’s interests protected, while the support from the rest of the team -including an excellent José Herrada- kept Valverde’s shoulders off any weight before the 10km of the final climb.
An initial attack by Nibali (AST) with 7km remaining put Valverde into his red zone, the Murcian forced to go on his own pace and keep a short margin behind the rest of the favourites, almost twenty seconds back. The gap with Rodríguez (KAT) for the podium, almost one minute, never got jeopardized after that point: a moment of vigilance between the favourites with 4k remaining allowed Valverde getting back into the group and starting a great progression that made the Spaniard drop Purito and reach Nibali after the decisive attack from Horner (RLT), virtual winner of the race and 2nd across the finish behind Kenny Elissonde (FDJ), the last man standing from the breakaway.
With the Points classification firmly secured for a second consecutive year, Valverde and all the Movistar Team riders will enjoy tomorrow the final stage of the 2013 Vuelta: 109km from Leganés to the urban circuit of Madrid (eight laps).
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde: “I gave everything that I had and I’m satisfied with myself. We must congratulate Horner after such a great effort – we saw he was the strongest in the race once again, he was phenomenal. Nibali was great, too – he was brave and made us struggle a lot. I think all four main contenders did really well. I knew I’d be climbing well on my pace, but I needed one of my rivals to crack in order to progress in the overall. That didn’t happen and that’s why I’m happy with this third place. It’s yet another podium overall in the Vuelta a España, and despite not winning a stage, we were always at the front and we secured the Points jersey. We were able to stay regular through all three weeks, and that’s fantastic – the team was also impressive today. Let’s hope this is a good step to making something beautiful at the Firenze Worlds in two weeks’ time.”