Hungry for wins at season's end
Spanish champion from Movistar Team attacks into final descent of Zappolino, ends up bested only by sprinter Colbrelli (TBM) after lining up only in the last minute. Gutiérrez 7th at women’s race.
And he’s still there. More than eight months after his season debut, Alejandro Valverde, the everlasting leader of the Movistar Team, was up there in the fight for a win just 24 hours after a big effort in the Giro dell’Emilia. The Spanish road race champion went onto the podium of the GP Beghelli, with its characteristic, ten-lap circuit around the GPM of Zappolino (1.4km at 5%), with a 2nd place into a short field’s sprint where he was only beaten by a strong sprinter, Sonny Colbrelli (TBM).
The Telefónica-backed squad’s good job to control the bunch into the final laps, full of attacks -Betancur, Verona, Carapaz and Prades following the accelerations-, did not bring a move from ‘Bala’ at the ascent, rather than the Murcia native jumping off the front right at the start of the final descent with six other riders: Mollema (TFS), Gaudu (GFC), Martin (WGG), Haig (MTS, 3rd) and a Bahrain duo, with Iván García Cortina escorting and leading out the sprint for his team-mate. It was the 18th podium of the 2019 season for the former World Champion, six days before the final race this year at Il Lombardia.
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde:
“I feel like I’m ready for Lombardia. At the Worlds I would of course have liked to be up there contesting the medals, but with the weather conditions we faced, it was just impossible for me to keep up. I’m still doing alright, I think, and took the start in this early October classics in Italy to not lose the racing pace before next Saturday. I’m willing to go for Lombardia. I tried to follow the main moves this weekend, and at that final climb I tried an attack just before the top, went away with those 6-7 riders and ended up beaten only by a sprinter like Colbrelli, so I’m satisfied.”
It wasn’t a less brilliant performance from the Blue leadies racing for the Spanish national team over the 80km morning course, six laps to Zappolino included. The Movistar Team focused its efforts on protecting sprinter Sheyla Gutiérrez, who rounded off the season with a fine 7th spot behind winner Marta Bastianelli (ITA). A good top-ten result to add to Eider Merino’s 9th place atop San Luca on Saturday.
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto