Volta a Catalunya (finale)
Stellar Movistar Team -with José Joaquín Rojas as luxury, final leadout- launches Alejandro into win in Volta a Catalunya’s final stage; ‘Bala’ claims 2nd overall, just 4″ behind Richie Porte (SKY)
Movistar Team put an icing on top of their successful, intense week in the 2015 Volta a Catalunya as the riders directed by José Luis Arrieta and José Luis Laguía crowned another piece of superb teamwork with a third stage for Alejandro Valverde after the 128km Barcelona showdown, with eight climbs of the Alt de Montjuïc. The Blues controlled the whole stage, already into the opening, intermediate sprints as ‘Bala’ claimed a 2-second bonus that approached him to 14″ behind Richie Porte (SKY), his main rival for the overall victory. The consistency by Soler and Anacona on the front was replaced into the final four laps by Rory Sutherland, José Herrada and Rubén Fernández, always keeping Valverde safe.
José Joaquín Rojas was the last helper staying together with Alejandro, who gave a final shot to victory as he attacked with 5km to go. The lack of a serious gap made Valverde wait for the sprint, where Rojas, normally a specialist in that matter, sacrificed his chances for ‘Bala’, who managed to beat a strong contender over the line in Frenchman Bryan Coquard (EUC). Valverde stepped onto the final podium -2nd, just 4″ in arrears of Porte- as he obtained the 799th victory for Eusebio Unzué’s different structures in 36 consecutive seasons in pro cycling, completing another show of bond and commitment from the whole Movistar Team.
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde: “We wanted to achieve the overall victory and we fought the whole day for it, yet we knew it was going to be really, really hard. The whole team was splendid, all the way through, and we set everything so I could attack in the hardest point of the circuit, the final slope of the last climb, but when I got into the flat after the steepest one I saw it was almost impossible to reach the finish alone. There was a strong headwind and I was relying on my rivals looking to each other, but Pozzovivo responded strongly, leaving all he had, so I decided to stop, reelaborate things and wait for the sprint. José Joaquín’s help was the key for success there – I thank him especially, and the whole team for everything they did for me this week.
“It was a really demanding Volta, as well in the racing pace -we rode fast every single day- as in the emotional side, with Pablo’s crash. Leaving it with three stages and the second place overall… you can’t really ask for anything else. It was also a pretty even contest – surely we could have seen more moves, but everyone was equally strong and it came down to the bonus seconds. Still, it was spectacular, much more than it seemed with the break on stage one. I might have won this shouldn’t that crash happen on day three, but I’m happy with what I obtained. With all those big riders in, taking a stage win was already remarkable, not even three. We’re really happy.
“We’re still thinking about racing Flanders or not – it would be quite a different race for me, on roads I don’t really know much, and it might add some risks to my racing schedule, that’s why we’re not 100% certain. If I don’t ride there, I’ll be competing in Estella, Rioja and Amorebieta before Amstel, Flèche Wallonne and Liège”.