Colossal performance by the Spaniard -attacking with 40k from the finish- awards him sixth win of the season, crowning splendid Movistar teamwork all day
GALLERY | Valverde’s victory in Roma, in images
Enormous ambition, courage and class only reachable by the best riders in the peloton, just like him. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) claimed one of his most beautiful victories as professional cyclist in the 2nd edition of Roma Maxima. The Spaniard crowned in the Via dei Fori Imperiali, next to the Colosseo, a splendid offensive from the telephone, taking control into the bunch all day to protect the chances by their leader on Italian soil.
With the day’s break just under one minute’s distance into the last climb in the route, the Campi di Annibale -40km from the finish-, Valverde responded to the work by his team-mates with a first move which strung out the field. Seconded in his action by Nairo Quintana, Alejandro attacked again and opened a gap into the hardest part of the ascent, together with Domenico Pozzovivo (ALM), who would be his only companion in the next kilometers. Behind, Quintana rolled at the back of a twelve-man pursuit group, where the lack of cooperation within its members gave Valverde wings, the Murcian fully committed to his chances.
Valverde and Pozzovivo took themselves into the finishing straight with the bunch in sight, yet the Spaniard still had energy for one last kick that awarded him his sixth success of the 2014 season -now tied with André Greipel (LTB) as the most winning rider so far- and gave the Movistar Team their ninth victory this year.
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde: ‘I’m super happy, it was a great victory. It all went perfectly for us, but we deserved it: the team was sensational and took control of the race all day, so we could get to the climbs with all chances to succeed. At the last climb, we did what we had planned before the start: attacking, Nairo and myself, one by one, to break the bunch into pieces. It wasn’t easy, because although the pace was high, the rivals were sitting on our wheels and always gives you much more energy. However, we kept on insisting, and such constance was the key for success. Eventually, I went away with Pozzovivo. Though I led the first part of the descent, he helped me out quickly and was a loyal break companion; it’s sad he couldn’t take second, because he deserved to be on the podium. Once we made that gamble, we had to dig deep until the very end. I went on full steam all the time, despite the headwind in the last 30k. I didn’t know either how many riders were behind, and Pozzovivo told me in the finale he was suffering a lot. That’s why I led the two of us through the last kilometer, controlling the gap with the peloton and looking for my distance into the sprint. I knew I had the legs and a decent gap to make it. This start of the season is amazing for me, impossible to beat. Not only because of the wins, but also the sensations. I’m 33 years old, but I feel stronger and stronger every year. Let’s hope it keeps going on this way.’