Wins in front of his home crowd
Movistar Team leader brings back glory to Abarca Sports organisation at their national event after beating long-time friend Luis León Sánchez (AST, plata) at Murcia’s La Fuensanta circuit.
After previous wins in Talavera (2008) and Cáceres (2015), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) conquered again the Spanish Road Race Championships with an additional touch of emotions and significance: he claimed honours in Murcia, in front of his home crowd and with a strong contender, and a long-time friend, as biggest rival: Luis León Sánchez (AST).
The Telefónica-backed squad took command of the race pace after Gorka Izagirre (AST) left Carlos Barbero behind from the first main breakaway of the event, formed after 100km full of attacks through the Cresta del Gallo climb. At its descent Lluís Mas, Carlos Verona and José Joaquín Rojas sustained minor blows and bruises at a crash which did not cause them serious injuries.
The Blues brought back Izagirre at the final climb of la Fuensanta, where Valverde followed the moves from Herrada (COF) and Sánchez, who later on dropped former Blue Jesús and went on into a tight sprint finish against ‘Bala’ -126th pro win; fourth of the year-. A title to add to the two notched up at the women’s races with Sheyla Gutiérrez (ITT) and Lourdes Oyarbide (road race).
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde:
“It was such a tough race, with plenty of attacks from the start and a breakaway which wasn’t allowed to stick until well over 90km from the start, at the Cresta del Gallo. With Gorka riding so strong, we were forced to take the lead of the bunch and push really hard with many team-mates to stand a chance of winning the race. The whole team did a massive job, and when they do, you’ve got to do your best to pay them back – this victory goes to all of my team-mates for their huge effort.
“I was coming into the end with Luisle, who is a great friend of mine – I’m sorry he wasn’t able to take the title home this time. It’s also sad for me I won’t be able to wear the jersey, yet we couldn’t miss a chance like this to take a prestigious win. I’m happy to win in front of my home crowds and the legs felt really good leading up to the TDF.”
Pictures: Photo Gomez Sport