Valverde reaches century of wins

Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde, pedalling with precision and power upon his fi’zi:k Antares 00 saddle, has won the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol for the fifth time in six years. Sunday’s final stage saw the 36-year-old battle apocalyptic bursts of rain and strong winds to retain his one-second advantage over old rival Alberto Contador. FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot, aboard his fi’zi:k Arione saddle, showed early season promise in third, just six seconds behind Valverde. Tim Wellens took the final stage win with Simon Clarke (fi’zi:k Antares VS and Cannondale-Drapac) in second.

Valverde’s race success was the 100th win of his professional career, and comes off the back of victory at Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia seven days previous. ‘It was a real battle against the elements… but finally I got my fifth win here,’ Valverde said after the race. ‘It’s a good feeling to have 100 wins on my palmares.’

Valverde’s decisive move came on stage three of five, as the Spaniard eclipsed Contador’s time-trial time by six seconds to take that single second advantage – a lead he didn’t relinquish. Come yesterday’s 151.5km stage from Setenil de las Bodegas to Coin, the aim was to match Contador’s time. And thanks to sterling teamwork from the likes of Gorka Izagirre (fi’zi:k Aliante VSX) and Marc Soler (fi’zi:k Antares 00), it’s a target Valverde reached in style.

It also proved to be a productive race for fi’zi:k-riding Team Sky with Wout Poels (fi’zi:k Antares VS), recent recruit Diego Rosa and Spaniard Mikel Landa (fi’zi:k Arione VS) in fourth, fifth and sixth, respectively. ‘In general it was a good race,’ Poels commented. ‘I’m now looking forward to Paris-Nice.’

Team Sky and Movistar showed the strength in depth of their respective squads with Michal Kwiatkowski (fi’zi:k Antares VS) and Jonathan Castroviejo (fi’zi:k Arione) finishing second and third at the Volta ao Algarve.