Vuelta a España (st. 19)
Valverde, Movistar Team head towards Puerto de Ancares, set to be Vuelta decider together with Sunday’s short time trial in Santiago
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There were no changes in the overall standings of the Vuelta a España after stage 19 in the race, a 181km route through the province of Pontevedra, from Salvaterra do Miño to Cangas do Morrazo. Adam Hansen (LTB) took a solo win after a late attack amig runaway in the peloton of favourites following a difficult descent from the Monte Faro (Cat-2), the only difficulty of the day, with young Kazakh rider Alexey Lutsenko (AST) first through.
Alejandro Valverde, well covered by his team-mates in the approach to the climb and accompanied by Castroviejo and Amador afterwards, stayed fully focused in the finale and keeps his 3rd place in the GC, 13″ behind Froome (SKY) and 1’32” off Contador’s (TCS) leader’s jersey before the last big mountain of the Spanish grandtour: the Puerto de Ancares (HC). There will finish stage 20, long -185km from Nogueira de Ramuín- and restless, with the ascents of Vilaesteva (Cat-2), O Lago (Cat-3) and Folgueiras de Aigas (Cat-1.)
Alejandro Valverde: “It might have seemed like a calm day, but it wasn’t the cast at all. It was a really fast stage. We rode the first 25k at 50 kph average; then, we kept a steady gap to keep the break close, and the final hour of racing was also really demanding. We knew the finish was going to be difficult and we always kept the front to avoid any troubles, especially in the last descent. Tomorrow’s stage will be really, really tough – Ancares is a hard one, with narrow sections, steep slopes… We’ll see how we feel our legs tomorrow, but should things go like today, I think I’ll keep the podium and, provided that Froome is not really far, we can think of jumping into second overall. I think we’re all pretty much equal and the podium should be decided tomorrow. If not, there’s Sunday’s TT, which I think might suit us well. It’s a short distance where I’ve always performed well – I hope to be strong there.”