Spaniard claims 7th victory of the season, Movistar Team's 11th at the GP Miguel Indurain, breaks 16-year streak without victories for Unzué's riders in only Navarran pro race
(Brief) No riders from Eusebio Unzué’s squads have won the only pro cycling race in Navarra since 1998, the last edition ridden under the name of Trofeo Foral. Saturday marked the end of such streak as Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) claimed a brilliant victory in the GP Miguel Indurain, held over 187km with more than ten climbs around Estella, including five passages through the demanding, crucial slopes towards the Basílica del Puy.
An 18-man break went away right from the start, with two Blues in: Gorka Izagirre and Jesús Herrada, always paying attention to the moves in an attempt closely followed by his team-mates, especially Sanz and Moreno. The escape was reduced to six men over the Alto de Guirguillano, 50k from the end, still with both Movistar Team featuring; behind, the pursuit group struggled through the climbs and shrunk to only 25 riders before the final loop. After the six were caught, with 35km remaining, and following another attempt with Herrada himself as well as John Gadret, Valverde decided to set things straight, attacking into the penultimate passage through Ibarra and reaching the Frenchman. Tom-Jelte Slagter (GRS) and Sergey Chernetskiy (KAT) were the only riders able to folow him.
Alejandro moved again at the second-to-last climb, Eraul (Cat-2), went solo and opened a gap which grew up to one minute across the finish. Valverde is now alone on top of the most winning riders’ list of 2014, with seven, as he also takes his 80th pro success and Movistar Team’s eleventh of the season, in a day full of commitment and eventually joy for all the Blues.
Alejandro Valverde: “I wanted so much to win here. The team was sensational, from the first to the last one – wherever we go, we always give our best. It was a really demanding circuit, but fortunately, it didn’t rain as much as expected. The rivals were fatigued after the work the guys did and at the last passage through the Ibarra climb, I saw it was time to attack. I had thought of moving again through Muru, the last slope before the Puy, but looking at how the race was developing, I anticipated it and tried in Eraul. Fortunately, that attack was enough. This victory is a confirmation that I’m still in good form. Now it’s time for País Vasco and the classics, my big goals. I knew I would be in good fitness for those and I did well today, but País Vasco will be that last bit I’m lacking yet. We will have a hard stage already on Monday, one to be concentrated and always ride up-front. This victory goes to all the fans that were on the roads supporting us, and especially to José Luis Oreja, an important person for cycling in Navarra who passed away recently.”