Photo: Photo Gomez Sport / Movistar Team
Aerial view from the early climbs, with the Blues in the lead of the bunch.
Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana
Spanish rider from Movistar Team always on the attack towards Deià, takes 3rd in Challenge’s toughest stage behind Wellens (LTS) and Moscon (SKY).
In only his second day of racing in 2018 and after nearly seven months without putting a backnumber on, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) confirmed to be fully recovered from his TDF injury. The Spanish superstar contested the win at Friday’s Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana, the hardest stage in the Challenge Mallorca -140km with no less than six categorized climbs-, ending up 3rd over the line after a display of courage and will to succeed.
Following some good Movistar teamwork to keep the race under control into the opening three ascents -a work much frustrated by a series of crashes, fortunately without any consequence, by Carretero, Amador, Rojas and Rosón on the wet descents-, Valverde went on the attack at the Cat-2 Coll de Sa Batalla, more than 40 kilometers from the finish. Only four riders were able to keep his pace, with Gregor Mühlberger (BOH), Gianluca Brambilla (TFS) and the two men he would fight for victory against: Gianni Moscon (SKY) and Tim Wellens (LTS), the Belgian jumping off the group several times, most notably on the descents.
It was on the short downhill of the Coll d’En Bleda (Cat-3), the last climb of the day, when Wellens, who had already opened a gap of more than ten seconds on Valverde at the descent of Puig Major (Cat-2) without being able to leave him behind, created an unsurmountable advantage together with Moscon and took the win. Valverde, in turn, claimed his first podium finish of the 2018 season and the maiden top-3 result for the Movistar Team, which will continue to enjoy the quality of one of their best riders ever.
REACTION, Alejandro Valverde:
“Today’s result and feelings have been good, really great I’d say. I felt really strong today. The training had gone well, but today’s race was the real test to check if my knee was recovered. It was the best place to give it a good try: a cold race, under the rain, on dangerous roads… It all went really smooth, the best I could dream of. Especially on the climbs. I really felt strong on the uphill parts. On the descents, though, it was more difficult for me. I was a bit worried and didn’t want to take any risks, because the roads were on a very dangerous state. To see my team-mates falling down really made me see that staying on the bike was already a victory today. I knew that the breakaway would split in the finale if they took more risks than I wanted, and that’s how it happened. Hats off to Wellens and Moscon, a well deserved first and second, but for me, taking 3rd is like a victory. Keeping the pace of those guys uphill after everything that happened is something to be really happy about. I knew I was doing well, but not so much.”
– Trofeo Lloseta – Andratx lineup (Saturday 27th January): Alejandro Valverde, Jorge Arcas, Carlos Barbero, Héctor Carretero, Imanol Erviti, Jaime Rosón.
Picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport