Vuelta al País Vasco (final stage)
Hard TT in Markina takes Movistar Team leader out of Vuelta al País Vasco overall podium by just 3″ after offensive manners all week
It was a scarce payoff for the great attitude shown by the whole Movistar Team through the entire 54th Vuelta al País Vasco, coming to a close on Saturday with a 25.9km individual time trial in Markina-Xemein. Alejandro Valverde was left out of the overall podium -taken by Contador (TCS), Kwiatkowski (OPQ) and Péraud (ALM)- by only three seconds, after struggling in a course with two of the climbs passed yesterday, Gontzagagaina and Santa Eugenia.
The good time checks clocked by Intxausti, José Herrada and a notable Ion Izagirre, who led the standings for some minutes and ended up in 7th -just 40″ behind day’s winner Tony Martin (OPQ)- did not make for a good presage. Valverde lost about twenty seconds on his main rivals -whom he was leading by 24″ overall- through the intermediate point, and digged deep until the final kilometer uphill to minimize gaps -he finished in 8th spot, 1’02” back- that still not tarnish a great impression from an offensive race by the Spaniard and all his team-mates.
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde: “It’s obvious that I was hoping for a better result, but when you give everything you have, you must be satisfied no matter the result. We’ll have to sit down and analyze what could have happen, but also concede that those guys in front of guys were talented ones and made a great effort, especially Alberto. Already since the route recon this morning I didn’t feel well, a bit empty, lacking strength. I don’t know if it’s been due to all the efforts we made during the last few days or simply a bad day. I started the TT a bit down in confidence and couldn’t get to the pace I had wanted to. I kept the speed through the climbs, but when it was time to push hard in the flat, I lacked energy. Should have I kept my usual strength, it would have been a good TT for me. I don’t know if I would have beaten Alberto, because it also suited him really well and did a great time trial, but I think I would have lost many seconds less than I did.
“I feel bad, especially looking at how I did this week, and my team-mates, who sacrified themselves all the way to Saturday, they were superb. Finishing three seconds behind the overall podium is afwul, because at least it’d have been a little prize for me to stay in. Let’s see how we recover, firstly with tomorrow’s race in Amorebieta and most importantly with the classics. I think today’s race was just a bad day, and I have the legs and the fitness I need to tackle such races in good form and do well, as I always did.“