Spanish rider from Movistar Team claims sixth career medal at home Worlds in Ponferrada, beaten by Kwiatkowski (gold) & Gerrans (silver) after fine work from team-mates
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The extraordinary story of regularity by Alejandro Valverde in the World Road Championships had another chapter today in Ponferrada, over a 14-lap, 254-kilometer circuit in Spain that saw seven Movistar Team riders -five Spaniards, Italy’s Giovanni Visconti and Costa Rica’s Andrey Amador- take on one of te biggest challenges in the sport. The Spaniard followed his race plan with absolute precision, eventually taking bronze against two of his biggest rivals throughout the season: Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) and Simon Gerrans (AUS).
A great overall performance by the Spanish squad through the final laps kept the Blues at front, after Giovanni Visconti spent two of the last five into the breakaway. Caught with 30km remaining, several accelerations by Ion Izagirre and Imanol Erviti controlled the attacks as Jonathan Castroviejo later moves into lap 13 to make it himself into the splits. The Basque rider, superb with his leadout heading into the last ascent, prepared Valverde for an attack anticipated by a descent move from Kwiatkowski. The Polish allrounder reached the top of the Mirador with nine seconds over Alejandro, enough to raise his arms victorious over the short field sprint.
It’s the sixth podium (two silver medals, fourth bronze) for Valverde, who is about to complete another consistent, victorious season -11 wins, including the Flèche Wallonne, the Clásica San Sebastián and the Spanish TT Champs- from the start to the end of 2014. Movistar Team leaves the Worlds from the podium for a third year on a row.
Alejandro Valverde: “At the end of the race I was seeing things getting harder and harder, because even though the field was shortening and the race eventually was really tough, many sprinters were left into the bunch and we had to drop them back. These Worlds might have lacked steeper slopes, but we can’t complain – it’s the same for everyone. The national team was superb, I can’t thank them enough: we worked well so I could try and jump to contest the victory into a field sprint, but we couldn’t control everything. Kwiatkowski rode excellently – he deserves this win.
“As far as I’m concerned, I did everything I wanted to do on course, and claiming this bronze medal in Spain, in front of my home crowds, is really great and makes me happy. It’s hard to ever make it onto a Worlds podium: I’ve done it six times, and even though I’d liked this time to be on the top step – honestly, if you look at the competition we had to face, you give massive credit to what we achieved. I want to thank the fans who came here and supported us, they were phenomenal. Also, I dedicate this victory to my family and my wife, who is about to give birth to another baby – this is for you.”