Valverde’s rainbow shines at the summit
August 30 th 2019 - 17:27
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) has dominated the terrible Alto Mas de la Costa and its slopes above 20% to take a 12th La Vuelta stage win on Friday. The Spanish star held on in a very selected group after several attacks from his teammate Nairo Quintana and powered to victory in the last 150m. Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) finished 2nd, 6” ahead of Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team). The Colombian ‘Superman’ will wear La Roja again tomorrow on stage 8. Roglic brings the gap down to 6” on GC while Valverde moves to 3rd, ahead of Quintana.
After two victories in a row for the early attackers, riders feel inspired to make it three at the end of stage 7. The battle for the breakaway is extremely intense: the pack covers 49.8km in the first hour and nobody manages to open a proper gap! That’s too much for Tejay Van Garderen (EF Education First), who abandons on the day after crashing en route to Ares del Maestrat. His teammates Rigoberto Uran and Hugh Carthy already abandoned on stage 6.
A strong group eventually manages to break away after 60km of hard racing: Quentin Jauregui (AG2R La Mondiale), Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick Step), Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal), Sebastian Henao (Team Ineos), Michael Storer (Team Sunweb), Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo), Sergio Henao (UAE Team Emirates) and Stéphane Rossetto (Cofidis). They are joined 23km further by Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto Soudal) and Cyril Barthe (Euskadi-Murias), The peloton trails by 3’44”.
Sergio Henao leads the breakaway atop the first three climbs of the day to take 11 KOM points. The gap reaches a maximum of 4’56” with 65km to go. Movistar decide to up the tempo and the gap is down to 2’ at the bottom of the penultimate climb. Philippe Gilbert and Sergio Henao accelerate. Sebastian Henao and Gianluca Brambilla join them and Sergio Henao takes 5 more points at the summit. Dylan Teuns is dropped from the bunch with 27km to go.
Philippe Gilbert attacks again with 12.5km to go and only Sergio Henao follows him. Astana Pro Team up the tempo with a gap down to 55”. They only trail by 14” at the bottom of the infamous Alto Mas de la Costa and the attackers are quickly caught with Jumbo-Visma’s Sepp Kuss upping the tempo.
Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) accelerates with 3.2km to go. Only Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team), Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana Pro Team) followed him. Quintana accelerated again with 2.2km and 1.2km to go but the four riders remained together until Alejandro Valverde powered to victory in the final 150m.