World No. 1 back in great form
World Champion from Movistar Team into selected group contesting victory at Via Roma, claims top-ten result to open his spring campaign at longest WorldTour race.
Always there. Despite having spent the last three weeks with no racing, feverish after the UAE Tour and unable to take the start of the Strade Bianche, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) again wore his rainbow colours up to a very good result in the 110th edition of Milano-Sanremo, the first ‘Monument’ of the classics campaign as well as the longest race in the world with its 291 kilometers.
The marvel from Murcia rode with extreme attention, always in a good position in the finale and well supported at times, with Lluís Mas covering him from the wind in the approach to the key climbs and the rest of the Blues staying with him through the Riviera Ligure.
An attack by Julian Alaphilippe (DQT) into the final slopes of the Poggio, seeking to chase down a previous move from Alberto Bettiol (EF1), left at the front a seven-man group at the top, the World Champion always on the wheel of the top contenders. The selected field’s sprint saw ‘Bala’ taking 7th place, as Alaphilippe conquered his first Monument victory ahead of Oliver Naesen (ALM) and Michal Kwiatkowski (SKY).
A top-ten finish -his first-ever in the ‘Classicissima’- marked the start of the World No. 1’s spring campaign, Valverde now heading to the Volta a Catalunya before racing his second ‘Monument’, arguably the one he’s been most asked for by the fans, in just two weeks’ time.
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde:
“It’s been a spectacular Milano-Sanremo, both because of the high level of racing and the great weather – even a bit surprising, so warm for this time of the year. Being up there with the top contenders and finish inside the first group, after 20 days with no racing, is something to be really happy about. It’s been mostly flatout in the finale, with no respite, which helped create that selection. Even if I was gaining some terrain on those launching the sprint from the front into the final meters, I wasn’t able to gain back more places and had to stay content with that seventh place. Hats off to Alaphilippe for that huge victory. Now it’s on to this long travel down to Catalunya, another important race in this early part of the season for me, before some more big classics.”
Cover picture (c): Luca Bettini / BettiniPhoto