Rounds off perfect February: 7 wins
Spaniard claims GC in Portugal after excellent Blue teamwork, breaks tradition in Volta ao Alentejo as first multiple winner of the race
Carlos Barbero (Movistar Team) has broken sort of a ‘curse’ reigning in the Volta ao Alentejo since its inception, the Portuguese event unable to get a winner of multiple editions of the race in its 34 years. The man from Burgos (Spain), extremely regular over the five days of competition and excellently supported by the Jaimerena / Laguía-led squad, claimed overall honours in a fast, attacking, nervous race, after a 5th place in the final 169km stage five to Évora was more than enough to confirm his first success in Blue colours.
Barbero’s ninth win in pros, made possible by great collaboration from Bico, Carretero, Carapaz, Pedrero, Oliveira and Amador, also brings the Movistar Team to a record in the Telefónica era of most victories at the end of February (7, equal to 2014 and 2015). It also marks the third GC success in as many weeks (Quintana – Valencia, Valverde – Andalucía), something achieved so early in the season only once (1993) by Eusebio Unzué’s squad.
Carlos Barbero: “The team was sensational again today, and we controlled the stage not with ease, but more comfortably than expected. You always fear those last stages because anything that happens is almost impossible to fix. However, I was holding an important gap and, as I knew the finish from previous years, I just tried to secure the overall win. Funny enough, I got the very same finish places I got at the other edition I won back in 2014 – every single day, but for stage three, when I punctured back in the day. Fortunately, we could also repeat the overall result from then and win.
“At the beginning of the week I was aware I could fight for stage wins, but was mainly focused on the GC. A rider like me, one who doesn’t do good time trials nor climbs well, finds it difficult to contest other kinds of stageraces. I knew this race was good for me, I had it written down on my goal list for the season, and Algarve helped me last week to find perfect form before this objective.
“I had spent a year and a half without a win, and I was so excited about raising my arms again, feeling like I do now. Even more so when you sign for another squad, where it’s always important to get off to a good start. Notching up a victory in March makes you more calm, as you see things are going through the right path. Being a part of the Movistar Team is just as it looks from outside: the team takes things seriously, treats you well, and the average level of all members is really high. This victory is a tribute to all of them, because they did an absolutely masterpiece of a job all week long. It also goes to Adriano – even though he had to retire on stage win, he gives us strength and teaches us all big values.
“I don’t know if i’ll be racing either Strade Bianche or Larciano next weekend, but Milano-Sanremo is confirmed for me. It’s a race I really love and want to know. We’ll give our very best there, but we’ve got to remain realistic – it’s a Monument classic, and the goal for this first appearance is just getting to know its secrets and tackle it later in my career.”
Abu Dhabi Tour: Arcas, Dowsett on the attack in Yas Marina
Over at their second competition of Sunday, Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) confirmed his 13th place overall in the Abu Dhabi Tour behind Rui Costa (UAD), both being able to get unscathed through the final 143km, 26 laps in the Yas Marina speedway. Blues Alex Dowsett and Jorge Arcas led most of the stage into a strong six-man break, caught with 30km remaining.