#BalaArcoíris victorious in France
World Champion from Movistar Team conquers Pyrenean race for second consecutive year, opens 2019 stagerace victory account just before the Spanish Championships to be held in his home region Murcia.
Alejandro Valverde encountered no setbacks during the final stage of the 2019 Route d’Occitanie -155km into a rolling circuit in Clermont-Pouyguillès, with seven climbs of the Côte de Moncassin (1km at 6%)- as he claimed his first stagerace GC victory of the year, crowning a splendid return to racing after a two-month stop following a sacrum injury which sidelined him from the Giro d’Italia. Iván Sosa (INS, 2nd), his strongest rival at Saturday’s Queen stage, and Rigoberto Urán (EF1, 3rd) joined the Spaniard on the podium.
Supported brilliantly by Arcas, Pedrero, Castrillo, Rojas, Valls and Prades, the World Champion got safely through a sprinter-suited stage -Arnaud Démare (GFC) claiming his second win of the weekend- and took his second consecutive triumph in the Pyrenean race, an event which has seen the Movistar Team riders taking overall honours up to five times since 2011 -two with Alejandro, another two with Nairo Quintana (2012, 2016) and an additional win with Vasil Kiryienka (2011)-.
Valverde thus increases his pro victory account to 125 as he claims his 24th success into a stagerace -a record within active pro riders-, the 15th win of the year for a Movistar Team whose efforts now focus, next weekend, at the National Championships across Europe, the Spanish road race and time trial to take place in Bala’s home region Murcia.
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde:
“It’s been a really hard day because of the heat. Where I live it’s normal to experience these temperatures, yet today’s humidity was unreal. It’s been another stage of good work from the whole team: always at the front, always keeping things under control, and securing our final prize with the GC win. It’s always important to win, no matter where it is. Also, I’ve been fortunate to win wherever I’ve been in the past few years more than once, which makes me so proud. It’s a really long career for me so far, already 39 years old… I’m actually the oldest guy in here, it seems! (laughs)
“All in all, I’m so happy with this result. As I said a couple of days ago, it really shows that the rest and preparations I’ve had for the past two months after my injury has been just what I needed. Now we move on to the Spanish Championships and, most importantly, the Tour de France. My goal, as I’ve already stated, is supporting Nairo and Mikel so the team does the best possible job at the Tour. I won’t be the team leader by any means – my goal is to support them 100% and enjoy wearing the rainbow jersey at the Tour. Should I have to lose some time in the early stages to favour their chances, I’ll be glad to. It’ll surely help us opt to some good results later on, be more free to move during the race.”
Cover picture (c): Aubin Lipke / La Route d’Occitanie