Victorious again in Estella
Spaniard wins second career GP Miguel Indurain, following great teamwork by whole Telefónica-backed squad -12 wins in 2018-, claims success in only UCI race in the Abarca Sports organisation’s Navarra region.
Alejandro Valverde makes journalists run out of adjectives and earns applause from the fans at every race he takes part in 2018. The Movistar Team leader dedicated a win to one of the men which has supported him the most all over his pro career, former Abarca Sports manager José Miguel Echávarri, by claiming his second career success in the GP Miguel Indurain, dominated again by the Eusebio Unzué-led squad with its seven riders committed to shining at the team’s home race.
Fantastic turns at the front by Jaime Castrillo -leading the bunch through the opening 120km-, Winner Anacona -over the climbs to Arradia and Guirguillano (Cat-1)- and Antonio Pedrero -all the way to the Alto de Lezaun (Cat-2)- led to a serious acceleration from Carlos Betancur and Andrey Amador, 40km from the finish, which shrank the group down to only 17 riders with four from the Movistar Team. The attacks by Mitchelton-Scott, Katusha and even some from the Movistar Team itself -Betancur holding a 25″ gap with 15km to go-, already into the final loop around the ‘wall’ of Ibarra, anticipated a tremendous attack from Valverde at the Alto de Eraul (Cat-2).
The Spaniard, only contested by youngster Carlos Verona (MTS), did not leave room to surprise and left his fellow countryman behind at the penultimate climb, the Alto de Muru, to reach the finish line solo in his 117th victory as a pro cyclist, the ninth of his season and the 12th for Movistar Team in 2018. Betancur (5th) and Marc Soler (6th) rounded off the fantastic display by the squad today directed by José Luis Arrieta.
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde:
“Yes, another one! I’m super happy to win this race because everything that meant for the team, with that tribute to José Miguel Echávarri by the event’s organisers. It’s always a beautiful event, but I was especially willing to come here this season and be present, because of him. It was a fast race, a quite windy one, yet the team kept everything under control all day, pacing themselves brilliantly. There were many teams trying to go on the attack into that final circuit -Mitchelton and Katusha were the ones making things hardest for us-, but we make the right moves and at the Eraul climb, I decided to attack and Verona and myself could stay away. Hats off to Carlos, because his performance today against me was excellent.
“All in all, I’m happy about this victory, about the spectacle we brought to the fans and even more surprised about the fitness level I’m being able to keep. I remain amazed by how smooth things are going after my injury. I just can’t thank enough all doctors and physiotherapists helping me out on my recovery process, as well as my family and all fans for their incredible support since my crash back in July. Next week I’ll be at the start of the Klasika Primavera in Amorebieta prior to Amstel, Flèche and Liège, which will be my final races before my first rest period this season.”
Picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport