LEON, Spain (VN) — For Alejandro Valverde, the regret of not being able to finish off the race is more painful than the cuts and scrapes he suffered crashing out of the Volta a Catalunya.
An optimistic Valverde (Movistar) started the 217-kilometer fourth stage from Llanars to Port Ainé holding a four-second lead over Bradley Wiggins (Sky).
Valverde hit the deck with Movistar teammate Eros Capecchi on the descent of a non-categorized climb on a narrow road with loose gravel. Both riders abandoned.
Valverde was not seriously injured, but said he was too banged up to carry on.
“What hurts most is the hip. My entire left side hurts,” Valverde said in a team release Thursday afternoon. “We knew it was a dangerous descent and we went to the front to pull. Capechhi crashed and I could do nothing to avoid him. It was a harsh impact, perhaps more so for him because I practically fell right on top of him.”
Valverde was shaken up in the crash and decided not to carry on despite not suffering serious injury. Capecchi was transported to a local hospital where x-rays confirmed no broken bones.
Valverde’s exit was a blow to Movistar, which won Wednesday’s stage with Nairo Quintana. Valverde took the leader’s jersey.
“It seems I have bad luck in Catalunya,” Valverde said. “I am angry because I was strong and had options, but the most important is there are no major injuries. Everything was going to plan. It’s a shame, not only for me but for the team, who were sensational all week.”
Later in the stage, Quintana attacked in the closing three kilometers to cross the line third in the stage and climb to third overall.
Valverde has enjoyed a successful start to his 2013 season, winning a stage at the Mallorca Challenge and two stages and the overall at the Ruta del Sol in February.
After leaving Catalunya prematurely, Valverde is still expected to be able to race the Vuelta al País Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) early next month before turning his focus to the Ardennes classics.