Valverde Solos to Murcia victory

Alejandro Valverde, aboard his fi’zi:k Arione VSX saddle and racing for Spanish Movistar Team, won the Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia on Saturday for the fifth time. The 36-year-old was born in Las Lumbreras, Murcia, and delighted the home crowd with a magnificent solo breakaway around 70km from the finish.

Valverde made his move in the mist on the Collado Bermejo climb, before facing down a headwind to take the victory, leaving Jhonatan Restrepo and Patrick Konrad fighting for second and third, respectively, a staggering 2 minutes and 10 seconds down on Valverde.

‘It’s always special for me to win on home roads,’ said Valverde. ‘This victory goes to all the people in this region, who always cheer for me so much when I’m racing aboard. It truly is the most beautiful of the five I’ve achieved here.’

Strong winds and unseasonably low temperatures greeted the riders for the 180km race, whose predominantly flat terrain was punctuated by three climbs. That strong wind split the riders early on with Sam Bewley, Evan Huffman and Jelle Wallays forming an early breakaway.

However, Movistar’s powerful team of seven, including Gorka Izagirre (fi’zi:k Aliante VSX saddle) and Ruben Fernandez (fi’zi:k Aliante saddle), reeled in the trio by the time the leading peloton had reached the foot of Alto Collado Bermejo, measuring 8.4km in length at an average gradient of 6.7%. From there, Valverde simply powered away for a memorable solo victory. He will now test his early-season form at the Ruta del Sol, which starts on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, fi’zi:k-sponsored Dimension Data dominated the South African Road Championships with Reinardt Janse van Rensburg ( fi’zi:k Arione VSX saddle) edging out teammate Stefan de Bod (fi’zi:k saddles). It was a memorable few days for De Bod who won the U23 men’s title earlier in the championships.