Vuelta a Andalucía (st. 2)
Third victory in as many days in Andalucía for Movistar Team leader, with no opposition at Cabra’s mountain-top finish after yet another exceptional piece of teamwork from the Blues
Alejandro Valverde and the Movistar Team’s ambitions don’t find any response from their rivals in the 60th Vuelta a Andalucía, unbeatable so far for the telephone squad. The Spaniard raised his arms victorious again atop the Santuario de la Virgen de la Sierra de Cabra, the end of the longest day in this year’s Ruta del Sol. The 197km route from La Guardia de Jaén always rode through rough, hilly roads, forcing the Blues to permanently lead the bunch.
The constant, effective work by Erviti, Capecchi, Plaza, Moreno and Herrada kept the day’s seven-man breakaway always under five minutes’ advantage, the Movistar Team keeping their pace steady to chase them down with 10k remaining. The help by Ion Izagirre, in that less steep point of the ascent and on the most demanding roads, kept Valverde calm as Sky led the bunch all the way to the finish. Alejandro only had to jump himself for the attacks of Navarro (COF) and Scarponi (AST) and launch his fearsome sprint for a third hattrick in his career, after claiming three consecutive stage wins in the Vuelta a Castilla y León and the Vuelta a Burgos.
Alejandro’s 20-second gap in the overall standings after today’s victory -the Movistar Team’s sixth in 2014, his own 76th win as pro cyclist- allows him to take an easier day tomorrow. The only flat stage in the race will be leading the race westbound, with 182 kilometers between Sanlúcar la Mayor and Sevilla prior to Sunday’s showdown near Málaga.
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde: “It’s true that today’s break wasn’t so numerous, but we had to work the same way. Until the last climbs, there was no single stretch where my team-mates could take some rest, and that’s much wear and tear. At the foot of the final ascent, Sky went on a very hard pace, but I felt well climbing. I was feeling better and better – I was very confident I could win the sprint. When you feel like I did, your body changes a bit, you end feeling tiredness a little less. When you have the chance to win, you must take advantage of every opportunity – that’s why I contested the sprint. But above all, I did it for my team-mates. After all they did for me these two days, always there, they deserved this victory. Theoretically, the two stages left are the least dangerous in this year’s race, but we can’t lose focus – we must keep full attentio to win this Vuelta.”