Vuelta a Andalucía (prologue)
Spaniard repeats 2013 performance at opening prologue in the Vuelta a Andalucía, confirms Movistar Team’s potential with Ion Izagirre (3rd) and Moreno (7th) all in top-ten places
The 60th Vuelta a Andalucía started off with a bang for the Movistar Team as Alejandro Valverde will wear the leader’s jersey on Thursday, following a convincing win in the 7.3km opening prologue in the outskirts of Almería. The Spaniard had good references from the start of the day thanks to good performances from his team-mates, with Javi Moreno (8th) taking up the hotseat for some minutes, plus Ion Izagirre, who was able to beat the Sky trio of Vasil Kiryienka, Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas by four seconds-. ‘Bala’ went flat out into a course combining power straights and very technical sections, where the telephone squad’s leader profited from his explosive conditions.
Valverde crossed the finish with a seven-second margin over Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (GIA), who had beaten Izagirre -eventually 3rd- minutes later, to claim his first win of the 2014 season, the Blues’ fourth so far and the 74th in Alejandro’s excellent pro career. The great performance by the whole squad -which now also leads the teams’ classification- will go through difficult test tomorrow with a demanding stage one -178km from Vélez Málaga to Jaén- with a total six rated climbs and an exhausting finale through Locubín (Cat-2), Valdepeñas (Cat-2) and up to the finish at the Castillo de Santa Catalina (Cat-3.)
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde: “I’m the first one who’s surprised about this result, not only because of the win but also due to the time gaps against such rivals, in such a short TT. It’s true that I had already won last year in front of strong guys, but the field competing here, especially in terms of time trial performance, was really hard to beat. I knew I was doing well with my form, but I didn’t know how good. Profiting from our training camp in Almería, we came here on Monday to try the course. We reconnoited it twice and I rode through it this morning with closed roads. I quite liked it because it had some pace changes. It was the first time on my new TT bike and this debut was impossible to improve. We’re very satisfied with how it works – we did ride on them for several days in the Circuit of Almería, that was crucial because it was our first time on them and we had to accustom ourselves to the measures, the geometry… I’m back in the lead here, but there’s a really hard race ahead of us. We’ll go day by day, trying to keep the team together and doing well. The rivals will have to better us and we’ll make it hard for them. I didn’t prepare myself really hard to perform well this early in the season, but as I always say, it’s easy for me to get into racing form, and the previous months, apart from some days with high fever after Dubai, didn’t mean any troubles for me.”