Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) finished safely in the pack on the final stage of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana on Sunday to take the overall title over the Astana duo of Luis Leon Sanchez and Jakob Fuglsang.
The final stage finished in a bunch sprint in Valencia with BMC Racing’s Jurgen Roelandts winning ahead of Danny van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo).
Valverde won Thursday’s second stage to take the overall lead and then benefitted from the neutralization of Friday’s team time trial to hold onto the leader’s yellow jersey. On Saturday, Valverde won the summit finish atop the category one climb Alto de las Canterastoover. He used his powerful finishing kick to beat Mitchelton-Scott’s Adam Yates.
“This victory is a reward to the great, hard work we did during the last few months with my recovery,” Valverde, who badly crashed on the opening day of the Tour de France in 2017 and feared his career may be over, said. “That’s why I’m so happy because I know where I come from and everything I had to go through in order to bounce back from such a serious crash and injuries I sustained.
“It’s quite different, this feeling, from the one when I won the race for the first time, 14 years ago. This time I’m coming back from a very serious injury, a seven-month period without any racing, and it’s really comforting to see I’m doing as well as I did or even better. I had many things to show yet in 2004. Now I’ve done everything I could in cycling, even though I keep the same love and excitement towards this sport.
Rain greeted the riders for the final stage of the 69th edition of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. Despite the wet weather, it was a fast start and a six-rider group jumped off the front of the peloton in the opening 10 kilometers of the 135.2-kilometer stage from Paterna to Valencia.
However, the peloton kept the breakaway on a short leash, with the leader’s advantage never going above two minutes.
On the descent of the day’s only categorized climb, Stefan Küng (BMC Racing) attacked his fellow breakaway companions and set off alone. Küng would be caught with less than 20 kilometers to go.
The run-in to the finish was tricky with four sharp turns before the final finishing straight. This made positioning key.
Roelandts found himself in perfect position and was able to beat van Poppel to the line. The tricky run-in had created gaps in the peloton, as Clément Venturini (Ag2r La Mondiale) lead many riders across the line timed at one-second behind Roelandts and van Poppel.
All of the overall contenders finished safely in the bunch to hold their respective positions in the general classification.
It is the third time Valverde has taken the overall title in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. His first triumph came 14 years ago in 2004 with the second title coming in 2007.
Valverde’s season will continue next weekend with a pair of one-day races, the Vuelta a Murcia and the Clásica de Almería. He will then fly to the United Arab Emirates later in the month to compete at the Abu Dhabi Tour.
Top 10, stage 5
- 1. Jurgen Roelandts, BMC RACING TEAM, in 02:58:26
- 2. Danny Van Poppel, TEAM LOTTONL-JUMBO, at 0:00
- 3. Clément Venturini, AG2R LA MONDIALE, at 0:01
- 4. Nelson Andres Soto, CAJA RURAL – SEGUROS RGA, at 0:01
- 5. Baptiste Plackaert, TEAM KATUSHA – ALPECIN, at 0:01
- 6. Christophe Noppe, SPORT VLAANDEREN – BALOISE, at 0:01
- 7. Marco Canola, NIPPO – VINI FANTINI – EUROPA OVINI, at 0:01
- 8. Yevgeniy Gidich, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 0:01
- 9. Jonas Koch, CCC SPRANDI POLKOWICE, at 0:01
- 10. Hugo Hofstetter, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CRéDITS, at 0:01
- 1. Alejandro Valverde, MOVISTAR TEAM, in 16:14:53
- 2. Luis Leon Sanchez, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 00:14
- 3. Jakob Fuglsang, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 00:26
- 4. Adam Yates, MITCHELTON-SCOTT, at 00:37
- 5. Jesús Herrada, COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CRéDITS, at 00:48
- 6. Primoz Roglic, TEAM LOTTONL-JUMBO, at 00:49
- 7. Pello Bilbao, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 00:54
- 8. Roman Krueziger, MITCHELTON-SCOTT, at 00:57
- 9. Kilian Frankiny, BMC RACING TEAM, at 01:03
- 10. Amaro Manuel Antunes, CCC SPRANDI POLKOWICE, at 01:09