Vuelta a Andalucía / Algarve (finale)
Spaniard confirms fifth GC success in Ruta del Sol; enters history once again by reaching hundred victories, only achieved by three currently active riders. Movistar Team notches up sixth win in just 15 days
Alejandro Valverde continues to write his legend as one of the best cyclists the world has ever seen. Sunday 19 February, just over fifteen years since his pro debut, the 36-year-old from Murcia claimed his 100th victory in the sport's top category, a figure only reached by three currently active riders: sprinters Mark Cavendish, André Greipel and Tom Boonen.
Valverde claimed overall honours in the 63rd edition of the Vuelta a Andalucía-Ruta del Sol –his fifth GC success in the Spanish five-day course– after maintaining the one-second gap over Alberto Contador (TFS) at the final stage, 151km between Setenil de las Bodegas and Coín. Under dreadful weather conditions, the Movistar Team, with excellent performance from all its members, had no major problems to keep the race under control and secure the Blues' sixth win of the season -3 for Valverde, 2 for Quintana, 1 for Castroviejo-, all of them in just fifteen days.
Racing for the telephone squad will resume next week, as they continue their activity in Portugal from Wednesday at the Volta ao Alentejo, followed by the Abu Dhabi Tour -part of the UCI WorldTour- from Thursday, with Nairo Quintana leading the roster in the Middle East.
Alejandro Valverde: “I'm super happy. It was quite a fought race and it made it even more sweet to win. The team was superb, all of them – as with every victory I've achieved, I can't thank them enough for their support. It wasn't an easy day by any means: rain, cold temperatures, gusty winds… We all really suffered. At the end, that struggling made difficult to see any attacks, and so we secured this fifth victory in the race, which took so much to obtain. It obviously makes me happy to be celebrating 100 victories as a professional. It's the sign of a fantastic career, one where above all I've enjoyed a lot riding my bike – and I hope I can improve those numbers in the future. There won't be much time for celebrations, as Paris-Nice starts in two weeks' time and it will be a big goal for us. Let's hope the season continues this way."
Misfortune for Castroviejo in Algarve
Over at the second front for the Blues this week, the 43rd Volta ao Algarve in Portugal, Jonathan Castroviejo was unable to keep the privileged third spot overall he was holding entering the final stage, 179km between Loulé and the Alto do Malhao. The Basque rider, winner of Friday's TT around the Fortaleza de Sagres, suffered a puncture just through the bottom of the last climb, costing him his position inside the main field that included all GC candidates and stage winner Amaro Antunes (W52).
Castroviejo, who changed bikes with team-mate Richard Carapaz, conceded just over a minute through the finish and ends te race in 7th place, the 29-year-old from Getxo having more than proven he deserved a shot at a final podium eventually made by Primoz Roglic (TLJ), Michal Kwiatkowski (SKY) and Tony Gallopin (LTS). The Basque's misfortune also meant the Movistar Team, leader of the teams' classification before the final day, could not complete their good collective performance with that victory.
Picture ©: Photo Gomez Sport