Valverde claims first 2019 podium under hail storm in Deià
02 February 2019

Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana

World Champion from Movistar Team takes 3rd after intense work from whole Blue squad in Challenge's most demanding trophy, in both elevation and weather respects.

Under real winter weather which made descents like the decisive Puigmajor downhill from the highest point of the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana (176km from Sóller to Deià), Alejandro Valverde showed again his unbeatable consistency at Saturday’s most demanding race of the 2019 Challenge de Mallorca, won by Tim Wellens (LTS) for the third year on a row.

Bennati leads the Blue train early in the race. (c) Photo Gomez Sport / Movistar Team

The Belgian was able to counter an acceleration, late through the Puigmajor climb, by German Emanuel Buchmann (BOH), and also leave behind an eight-man pursuit group with three Movistar Team riders, Oliveira (6th) and Rojas (9th) supporting the World Champion. Valverde, well protected into the dozens of attacks in a crazy opening 60km, tried to get back in contention with an attack before the Coll d’en Bleda (Cat-3), and was able to overtake Colombian Sergio Higuita (EUK, 4th) en route to his first 2019 podium finish – third top-ten result in as many days after Thursday’s 4th atop Sant Salvador and Friday’s 10th in Lloseta.

Valverde will head from Mallorca to the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, while his team-mates complete the Movistar Team’s appearance at the Challenge on Saturday’s 159km Trofeo Playa de Palma – Palma. At the start will be Lluís Mas, Daniele Bennati, Imanol Erviti, Antonio Pedrero, Jürgen Roelandts, José Joaquín Rojas and Carlos Verona.

Valverde on the attack near the end. (c) Photo Gomez Sport / Movistar Team

REACTION / Alejandro Valverde (video, in Spanish):

“It was a very demanding race, just like all three so far here this year. A really cold day, even with hail storm through the climb [of Femenia / Puigmajor], lots of wind… In the end, when Buchmann attacked near the top of Puigmajor, I preferred to get some warmer clothes and reach the finish in better condition rather than getting too cold into the downhill, and that’s why they went away. In any case, I was still able to finish 3rd today, so I’m satisfied to step onto the podium at least. Of course I’d have loved to win here, but I’m drawing some good conclusions from my efforts in this Challenge, and being able to stay always there, in such bad weather, is something to be happy about.”

Cover picture (c): Photo Gomez Sport