Only an impressive Michael Woods (EF1) beats Spanish champion from Movistar Team, back on podium in Italy before last Monument classic of 2019 next Saturday.
The everlasting consistency and fine legs of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) will see him reaching the end of yet another season with a shot at one of the big prizes in the 2019 classics season. The Spanish road race champion put an end to his preparations for Il Lombardia, the last race for the Blues next Saturday, with another podium (2nd) in Italy at the 100th Milano-Torino, held over 178km at impressive speed and finishing with two climbs to the Basilica di Superga.
The commitment from the Telefónica-backed squad all race long was worth many mentions today. Jasha Sütterlin and Jaime Castrillo worked until the final 25km to keep under control the morning break of five riders, while Carlos Betancur and Rubén Fernández covered the Spaniard into the ascents, with Rubén picking up the pace into the second climb to help Valverde find a better position.
Alejandro tried to keep a check on the multiple accelerations by an impressive Michael Woods (EF1), the only one which matched, and even bested, the Spaniard’s pace when his final move, 400 meters from the end, made the former World Champion hesitate to follow him just before the sprint. Eventually, ‘Bala’ finished on the Canadian’s wheel, without overtaking him, and remained on the podium of the ‘MiTo’ after his 3rd spot from the 2018 race.
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde:
“First of all, hats off to Woods for his victory. And thanks a lot to my team-mates, for the great work they did at all times, keeping me covered before the last climb. I’d of course have liked to finish this off and win, but we must remain happy with this 2nd place. I may have lacked some confidence to follow Woods’ acceleration into that move prior to the final straight, but I’m content with this podium.
“We weren’t really fortunate with the incident at Tre Valli yesterday. Everyone just followed the motorbike. I realized that wasn’t the right direction, but seeing that everyone was going there, I wasn’t going to turn right and cause a crash. It was a completely different race today, with different weather – we spent the first 100km under the rain and with cold weather, and so my legs didn’t feel particularly great, a bit swollen because of the humidity, yet we were able to keep the pace in the end.
“A fifth spot, two second places – it seems like these tests before Lombardy show good signs. This will help me reach a really good fitness level for Saturday. Lombardia is a race that I still miss in my palmarès, and we must take advantage from this form. Roglic should be the man to beat there.”
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto