Report: Perfect day for Movistar as Valverde Wins again


Endura clad Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) claims back-to-back victories to stay in control at Vuelta a Andalucía despite pressure from Team Sky

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Perfect day for Movistar as Valverde Wins again


Movistar rider Alejandro Valverde’s (above) love story with Jaén and the Vuelta a Andalucía had yet another chapter today on the slopes of the Castillo de Santa Catalina, the finish of the 60th Ruta del Sol’s hardest stage over 187 kilometres. With six cateorgized climbs, there was no rest for the riders from the very start in Vélez Málaga.

The Movistar team leader, already a winner in the province with two stages of the Vuelta a España -finishing atop La Pandera (2003) and in the capital (2008), soaked up the splendid work by his team-mates all day and repaid them with interest at the finish.

There was good news for Team Sky with their Aussie Richie Porte moving up to second place overall.

It was a stage for the climbers and at the business end of the race, Team Sky went on the offensive with Edvald Boasson Hagen, Vasil Kiryienka and Pete Kennaugh all doing their share to reduce the numbers in the font group. Kennaugh’s attack on a steep section of the Alto Castillo de Santa Catalina provided a launchpad for Welshman Geraint Thomas, whose effort ensured that just nine riders remained in the lead group heading under the flamme rouge.

On the steep final kick there was no stopping race leader Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) though, who went clear to win by four seconds which helped him open up a 19-second lead over Porte, who was fourth on the stage. Bauke Mollema (Belkin) and Davide Rebellin (CCC Polsat) were second and third.

Bradley Wiggins meanwhile was getting in the hard yards early on at the front of the peloton helping chase the break. A 10-rider breakaway was proving to be little more than an opening teaser to the grand finale that ended the race: a steep ascent up a category three climb that terminated within the front gates of Jaén castle.

Team Movistar (who are kitted out with Endura clothing) swarmed the front with over 50 kilometers remaining and gradually chipped away the gap to the leaders up the road; at the same time they whittled down the numbers in the peloton with their unforgiving pace over the undulating parcours. The breakaway would shatter on the tough climbs leaving only four riders in front with any hope for a stage victory. They, too, eventually succumbed to the harsh terrain and were gobbled up on the penultimate climb by a hungry peloton intent on fighting for the win, and the overall GC.

With only a descent and the final climb to the finish to go, Team Sky moved to front and set a blistering pace, its ambitions to set up Richie Porte for the victory. However, it was Valverde that jumped around Porte in the last meters to take the stage win, as the Australian faded to finish fourth, albeit enough to move him to second place in the overall classification.


Alejandro Valverde said afterwards “It was a really hard day, always up and down – we climbed 4,000 meters in just 185 kilometers, which considering which time of the year we’re in, it’s quite brutal. We didn’t want to let such a big break go away, but when they attacked, we were starting the climbing, and going after them would have meant to increase the speed too much for that point of the race.”

“To be honest, Erviti and Capecchi impressed me, they did an amazing work pushing almost all stage. Same goes for the rest of my team-mates in the finale: Plaza, Herrada and Javi in the last climb. Chapeau for all of them. In the uphill finish, Ion’s (Izagirre) work was crucial because, when Porte sent Thomas ahead, he bridged the gap and later led me out for the sprint – a genius.”

“I didn’t have super legs at that point, because we were all dead tired after such an effort, but they were good indeed. It seems like tomorrow’s will be the Queen stage, but today’s seemed to me even harder. The thing is, today’s wear and tear will pay off, and the climb is longer, so gaps might be made there. It will be hard to stay calm as we’re holding the lead, but we’re hopeful we can work a little less than today.”

Bauke Mollema (Belkin), who was second, meanwhile appears ready for 2014. “Of course I would have loved to win, but Valverde was simply too strong in the last hundred meters,” said Mollema. “I lost connection with the group after the peloton split in front of him on a steep part of the climb. Luckily, I was able to close the gap as it stayed small.”

“When I bridged, the road flattened out which gave me the opportunity to recover a bit for the sprint. Unfortunately, Valverde was in a league of his own. I didn’t really know what to expect today,” added Mollema. “The first day back in the peloton is always a bit weird. With at least 4000 metres climbing, the course was very hard, but I have to say it went well. I didn’t really suffer. It shows that my condition is in order and that I’ve had a great winter.”

Friday’s stage, the queen stage, finishes uphill at 1200 metres.

1 VALVERDE Alejandro Movistar Team 05:08:57
2 MOLLEMA Bauke Belkin-Pro Cycling Team 00:04
3 REBELLIN Davide CCC Polsat Polkowice
4 PORTE Richie Team Sky
5 SANCHEZ Luis Leon Caja Rural – Seguros RGA
6 SIMON Julien Cofidis, Solutions Crédits 00:11
7 NAVARRO GARCIA Daniel Cofidis, Solutions Crédits 00:12
8 IZAGIRRE Ion Movistar Team 00:15
9 DEGAND Thomas Wanty – Groupe Gobert 00:16
10 KANGERT Tanel Astana Pro Team 00:17
11 SCARPONI Michele Astana Pro Team 00:19
12 TIRALONGO Paolo Astana Pro Team
13 ZUBELDIA AGIRRE Haimar Trek Factory Racing 00:21
14 LINDEMAN Bert-Jan Rabobank Development Team 00:23
15 GARCIA FERNANDEZ Marcos Caja Rural – Seguros RGA
16 TXURRUKA Amets Caja Rural – Seguros RGA
17 DE GREEF Francis Wanty – Groupe Gobert
18 NORDHAUG Lars Petter Belkin-Pro Cycling Team
19 MINGUEZ Miguel Euskadi
20 MATE MARDONES Luis Angel Cofidis, Solutions Crédits

21 THOMAS Geraint Team Sky 00:30
32 KENNAUGH Peter Team Sky 00.55
56 WIGGINS Bradley Team Sky 3.51
58 BOASSON HAGEN Edvald Team Sky 03:53
109 HENDERSON Gregory Lotto Belisol 12:49
110 CIOLEK Gerald MTN – Qhubeka 13:36
125 VOIGT Jens Trek Factory Racing 24:29

1 VALVERDE Alejandro Movistar Team 8 05:17:19
2 PORTE Richie Team Sky 00:19
3 SANCHEZ Luis Leon Caja Rural – Seguros RGA 00:21
4 IZAGIRRE Ion Movistar Team 00:24
5 ZUBELDIA AGIRRE Haimar Trek Factory Racing 00:37
6 KANGERT Tanel Astana Pro Team 00:38
7 MOLLEMA Bauke Belkin-Pro Cycling Team 00:39
8 SIMON Julien Cofidis, Solutions Crédits 00:40
9 REBELLIN Davide CCC Polsat Polkowice 00:43
10 THOMAS Geraint Team Sky 00:44



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