Vuelta a España (st. 15)
Valverde -new King of the Mountains in the Vuelta- finishes 2nd up Los Lagos, takes 11″ back on Contador (TCS) after excellent Movistar teamwork, pushing at the front from the Tornos climbs. Castroviejo crashes, no injuries
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Impressive teamwork put Alejandro Valverde on the verge of success in one of the most prestigious climbs in Spanish cycling. The Movistar Team fought back after courage unrewarded on yesterday’s climbs and offered a great show on their way to the HC ascent of Lagos de Covadonga, on stage 15 of the Vuelta a España over 152km starting at Oviedo and also including the Puerto de Tornos (Cat-2). Under the rain, all seven helpers of the Spanish rider -Erviti and Malori, in the flat leading to the first climb; then, Moreno, Castroviejo and Amador in the uphill; and finally, Gorka Izagirre and José Herrada before the closing climb- collaborated to create selection in the field, momentarily drop some of the GC contenders and shrink the gaps of a break whose last survivor, Przemyslaw Niemiec (LAM), won by only 5″ after leading by more than 11 minutes halfway through.
A small fright as Jonathan Castroviejo crashed, rolling down into a ditch in the dangerous Tornos descent, saw him taking small bruises and pain in his left ankle, all unimportant as all eight Blues finished the stage next to a solid Valverde. Always responding the attacks, the Murcia-born rider took eleven seconds back on Contador (TCS), bonus included, to get just 31″ behind the race leader, also becoming the new King of the Mountains after his 2nd spot in the Asturian summit. With four riders in just under one minute and a half, the Vuelta will head tomorrow in one of the two seemingly decisive stages together with Ancares (Saturday 13), the Queen one of this year’s course in 160km from Samartín del Rei Aurelio to La Farrapona (Cat-1), via Colladona (Cat-1), Cordal (Cat-2), Cobertoria (Cat-1) and San Lorenzo (Cat-1.)
Alejandro Valverde: “The team rode superbly, they were phenomenal. We took the front of the bunch into the first climb and we wanted to stay there in the beginning of the descent so we could avoid any troubles, since it was a really dangerous one. We were taking this easy, not risking any more than needed, but despite all of that, we suffered Castroviejo’s crash. The situation in the finale was ‘strange’, under quotations, because everyone did their own thing. They were always attacking: firstly one, then the other… Purito tried it in the final slopes, Alberto jumped away lots of times… Froome also rode like he used to in this race, looking not as strong as usual but still keeping the pace.
“I was a bit too optimistic yesterday when I attacked into the final climb, and I chose to stay more conservative today and do one last attack, in the final meters. It’s true that Froome would have been a bit more distanced is we cooperated better, but I wasn’t trusting neithwe Alberto nor Purito. With so many attacks from them two, I preferred to take the bonus into the sprint, as I did. The legs felt well today, but tomorrow’s stage is tremendous, hellish. It will be really hard, and I just hope that strength stays with us and not to have any problems like Castro’s again.”