Alejandro Valverde wins Clásica de San Sebastián for the second time in his career, takes lead in WorldTour ranking after tenth success in 2014 -27th for Movistar Team this year-
PICTURES | Clásica de San Sebastián gallery
The best way for Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) to reassert his enormous quality after a bittersweet result in the recent Tour de France came in the usual style by the Spaniard: with a victory. A prestigious one, one of the most prestigious exhibitions by the ‘Bala’ in one-day races to claim his second Clásica de Sebastián, the 219-kilometer event in the Basque country seeing the Blues shine all the way until the top of the new Igeldo (Cat-2) ascent -preceeded by the double passage through Jaizkibel (Cat-1) and Arkale (Cat-2)-.
The Herrada brothers, Antón and a great Jonathan Castroviejo kept the day’s solo escapee Amets Txurruka (CJR) under control, his attempt caught with 50km remaining as several counters -Giovanni Visconti featured prominently- livened things up. The bunch came together, yet shortened, across the foot of the so-called Pico de Borda, where Jesús Herrada led Valverde out as Visconti -fine 9th place at the end- responded to the first moves. The decisive attack by Joaquim Rodríguez (KAT) saw Valverde managing well his force over the climb so the two could reach the top together.
Into the fast descent, Valverde took the first place and eventually opened a gap over his pursuit, covering the late flat until the Boulevard in solitude and raising his arms victorious in the 10th success of his 2014 account -27 victories for the Movistar Team so far-. The Blues’ leader in Spain, accompanied on the podium by Mollema (BEL, 2nd) and Rodríguez (3rd), is back on top of the WorldTour standings, which the Movistar Team was already leading right after the Grande Boucle.
REACTION | Alejandro Valverde: “It was not really like a big grudge held by me, because I’ve shown how I can do, all year long. It’s just that it was a bad end to my Tour, not being able to achieve the podium goal after coming so close. The only thing we could do was racing on full steam, like I always do when I put on a backnumber. San Sebastián is a race I really like, even more with this route. It’s my second victory here, plus two other podiums. Ten wins already this season, now on top of the WorldTour… I can only be happy.
“The Igeldo climb was amazing. It really changes the race. Those like me who come to win it will always save something for end. It gets harder when the pace picks up in Jaizkibel, where the group shrinks, but the rhythm is not so hard afterwards. It was important to do well on the climb, but also on the descent. If you gained a few meters on the uphill section, it was very difficult for your rivals to get back on the downhill. I followed Joaquim’s wheel when he jumped away, but he kept accelerating and went solo. As he told to me after the race, he lacked a bit of strength at the end of the climb, while I kept the pace stable and went full gas in the final slopes to reach him down. I took the lead in the downhill to try and fight for it, just the two of us, and wasn’t really aware of Yates’s crash. When I saw I was alone, there wasn’t other thing to do than going flat-out until the finish.
“This victory is a tribute to the Movistar Team and my wife, Natalia, always by my side. Now we’ll keep training, but taking things easy, having some rest and starting thinking about the Vuelta. We’ve got a really strong squad, with Nairo in, and we’ll do our best to keep the overall title within the team.”