Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) soloed to his fifth career win at La Vuelta a Murcia on Saturday.

Veteran cyclist Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) soloed to his fifth career win at La Vuelta a Murcia in Spain on Saturday.

The 36-year-old Spaniard’s success at Murcia dates back to 2004, with his last win coming in 2014. The one-day, 182.7km Spanish classic from San Javier to Murcia featured three categorized climbs, including the brutal Category 1 Alto Collado Bermejo (1,200m), also showcased at the Vuelta a España.

Valverde escaped more than 60 kilometers from the finish and resisted his pursuers to the line. Colombian Jhonatan Restrepo (Katusha-Alpecin) took second (+2:10) directly in front of the Austrian Patrick Konrad (Bora-Hansgrohe).

“It really was hard, mainly because of those strong headwinds in the later part of the race down to Murcia,” said Valverde after the race. “I had planned to jump from the bottom of the Collado Bermejo, and I had my team-mates pushing hard from the Aledo part of the climb, but I was really hoping for someone to come from behind and take some turns with me.

“In the end, I saw I was alone and I told to myself: ‘I keep going on the descent, and should they catch me, maybe I can go for it in the sprint, and shouldn’t they, I win’ – and I made it to the finish. I just had to give it a try, even it it was so far away from the finish and it was a long shot, but that was the only point where I could win solo from. I took that chance, and I succeeded.”

Next up for Valverde is Ruta del Sol.

“After [Nairo Quintana’s] success in Valencia, things are looking really promising for us this season – it’s just taking from where we left, after we won those four consecutive WorldTour titles all the way up to 2016,” he said. “Now it’s about having some rest and taking the start of the Ruta del Sol on Wednesday. There, we’ll find Alberto Contador and many other big riders, and we will have to try and continue with this streak.”