Tour of the Basque Country – Valverde wins Overall

Second place for Alejandro Valverde behind Primož Roglič in the final time trial was enough to clinch the overall win in the Tour of the Basque Country

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Tour of the Basque Country – Valverde wins Overall

Team Movistar Press Release

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) was finally able to cross out the Vuelta al País Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country)  from his list of big victories still missing in his palmarès, fifteen long years after debuting in the race as a neo-pro in 2002.

The superstar from Murcia got hold at last of the ‘txapela’ hat awarded to the ‘Itzulia’ overall victor following a excellent individual time trial in Eibar (27km), over a course very difficult from a strategical point of view:

… a climb right from the start ramp, Karabieta, 7km long, followed by a fast descent, where ‘Bala’ exceeded 100kph; lots of ups and downs combined with long straights in the final 15km- and against incredibly talented rivals, including Ion Izagirre (TBM) and Alberto Contador (TFS).

The Trek leader Contador  put a worrying 15″ into Valverde after the ascent, a serious gap which ‘Bala’ started making up with a crazy descent.

Alejandro crossed the intermediate split (12km)  2nd within all participants, 9″ behind Contador, and started to really turn things around on the slope of Soraluze (21km).

Alejandro, tied with Izagirre at that point -the Basque eventually 3rd overall- and 6″ behind Contador, managed his energy to perfection to strike once and for good: 6″ over Ion and 20″ on Contador through the last six kilometers were his decisive comeback, short only 9″ to the stage win by Primoz Roglic (TLJ).

The 106th pro win by Valverde, who has reached 19 career victories in multi-day events (the second most successful active rider when it comes to GCs), is another boost in respect for a legendary cyclist -well supported by the whole Movistar Team, with De La Parte, Gorka Izagirre, Rubén Fernández, Moreno, Sutherland, José Herrada and Pedrero- who will now focus on the Ardennes classics -he’s won seven of them in his career- starting next Sunday with the Amstel Gold Race.

Alejandro Valverde: “Man, it was hard! I really wanted to win this Itzulia. I have been on the verge of success so many years, always came close without a win – fortunately, it seems like I’m on a good streak this season, and claiming overall honours at last makes for a very special success.

Having no pressure before this race was possible thanks to that excellent start to 2017. It was a different País Vasco from previous editions, with lighter routes in the beginning – always demanding but not to much – and, at the end and as in every edition, it came down to the final TT. That’s where we had to give everything for the win.

“Obviously, it was a very demanding course today. Plus, it was stressful, with Ion, Alberto and myself really close to each other. I must say it was an important advantage to start as last, as I had all time splits from my rivals. I was a bit conservative into the first flat stretch after the Karabieta descent, because my team-mates departing earlier reminded me to keep some energy for the final 7km, after the Soraluze slopes, where the real difference was made. I just went on full steam from there and – well, the strategy was right

“I’m even more surprised than anyone about how things are going for me this season. Every single year, at this point of the season, I yell it’s my best start ever. But this time, you can’t have any doubts: it’s the best one. With everything that I’ve won so far, I’m heading into the classics without any stress… maybe if I win one in the Ardennes, I can skip the rest of the season! (Laughs)

Seriously: I’m in very good condition and we must try and take advantage from it at the Ardennes. After that, we’ll have some rest and start preparing for the Tour.

“I want to thank the Basque fans for their support in such a spectacular, tight race. Also, my team-mates, for their continuous support, and my family, my kids and everyone who gets happy about my success – this is for you!”


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Primož  Roglic ( LottoNL-Jumbo):  “It was a difficult time trial, but everything went as I wanted,” Roglic said. “I won twice this week and I finished fifth in the standings.”

“Today, I left the big classification riders behind me in a time trial, and that feels good. I’m so happy, also for the team because they have supported me well all week. It feels good that I can repay them. Now I’ll focus my sights on the Tour de Romandie.”

Alberto Contador: “I’m satisfied because it’s been a race in which I’ve been through everything: falls, punctures, breakdowns, the fall of Samu (Sanchez) in front of me and, to top it all, today the radio did not work almost from the start,” said Contador about the misfortunes he has had to overcome all week.

“Not much luck has accompanied me, but if that changes for me in another race, which is what I want, I’m okay with it happening here.”

“We decided to start with the road bike because I crashed three days ago and I’m sore, and it was easier to not hold the [TT] position when I was climbing,” explained Contador.

“We had tested it this morning, and we decided to opt for the normal handlebars to avoid the aerodynamic position at first, and I think it was a good option.”

The bike change to his Speed Concept time trial machine at the top of the climb went smoothly – maybe 5 seconds lost, at most 10. The intermediate time check at the bottom of the descent would tell, and he crossed in the quickest time: 19 minutes and 16 seconds.

When Valverde arrived at the same point nine seconds in arrears, the battle was on between the two Spaniards, fighting once more for the overall win.

Contador zoomed across the finish, stopping the clock in 36:21 and taking the overall lead provisionally. Only one rider remained out on course that could still beat him: Valverde.

“I have missed the victory in all races for a little bit, but for me, instead of taking away my morale, it gives me extra motivation. I’m satisfied with my performance here and since the beginning of the season, which has been really good,” Contador emphasized.

“I have missed the victory in all races by a little bit, but for me, instead of taking away my morale, it gives me extra motivation. It’s going to make me work harder because you have to wait for good things.”

Time Trial (Final Stage)
1. Primož Roglič Team LottoNL-Jumbo
2. Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team :09
3. Ion Izagirre Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team 15
4. Alberto Contador Trek – Segafredo :23
5. David de la Cruz Quick-Step Floors :34
6. Michael MatthewsTeam Sunweb :41
7. Vasil Kiryienka Team Sky :52
8. Diego Ulissi UAE Team Emirates
9. Víctor De La Parte Movistar Team 1:04
10. George Bennett Team LottoNL-Jumbo 1:23

26. Simon Yates, ORICA-Scott 1:48

Final Overall
1. Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team
2. Alberto Contador Trek – Segafredo
3. Ion Izagirre Bahrain Merida Pro Cycling Team
4. Cruz de la David Quick-Step Floors
5. Primož Roglič Team LottoNL-Jumbo
6. Louis Meintjes UAE Team Emirates
7. Patrick Konrad Bora – Hansgrohe
8. Sergio Luis Henao Team Sky10090
9. Rigoberto UranCannondale-Drapac Pro Cycling Team
10. Simon Špilak Team Katusha – Alpecin

22. Simon Yates ORICA-Scott



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