Valverde hoping for status quo to finish La Vuelta
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Monday, September 03, 2012

Valverde hoping for status quo to finish La Vuelta

by Kyle Moore at 10:09 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
Pleased to distance Froome, hoping to maintain teams classification lead

Alejandro ValverdeAlejandro Valverde (Movistar) has come into his own as the third best rider in the Vuelta a España over the course of the past three mountain stages, and the Spaniard is satisfied with his own and his team’s current haul of victories in the 2012 edition.

Valverde has taken advantage of the fatigued and fading Christopher Froome (Sky Procycling), as well as the ding-dong battle between overall leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and second placed Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) to further solidify his position in third overall.

After Monday’s queen stage, the Spaniard is on an island in the standings, sitting at 2’04 behind Rodriguez. Contador is just 28 seconds off the lead, though he doesn’t appear as strong as the Katusha rider. Behind Valverde, Froome as been distanced to 4’52” back of Rodriguez, and fifth placed Dani Moreno is at 6’58”.

Movistar also used Monday’s brutal stage to solidify the teams classification, which they now lead by 12 minutes over Euskaltel-Euskadi. Rabobank is third at nearly 15 minutes, and AG2R La Mondiale is fourth, with a 20-minute deficit.

With two individual stage wins – stages three and eight – to his credit, along with a short stint in the red leader’s jersey plus the stage one team time trial victory, Valverde says he is pleased with his squad’s current accomplishments so far, and just wants to hold on through the completion of the final week.

After surviving the queen stage to Cuitu Negru and adding more than two minutes to his advantage over Froome, Valverde was notably pleased with his day after stage 16.

“The balance of the day for me and for the team is very good,” Valverde stated. “Expectations were met, and we were trying to take another small step to secure the podium and clinch the team standings. The podium is a little closer for me, and though there are still a few teams in the race, we have taken a very important step.”

Valverde explained his stage 16 tactic to allow Contador and Rodriguez to battle on their own, while he rode sensibly within himself, pulling back when the two protagonists eased off, while leaving Froome further behind.

“When Alberto and Purito started to attack, I preferred not to go into that war because they would go very hard and then stop,” explained the Movistar rider. “I preferred to go my own pace because I always ended up catching back up and it was important to keep getting ahead of Froome.”

Valverde praised the work of his team, especially Colombian climber Nairo Quintana, who despite being nearly an hour back in the overall, has come into his own in the high mountains. The Critérium du Dauphiné stage winner has been one of the best climbers of the past two stages, shepherding Valverde when most other GC men are isolated. “Nairo’s work, like yesterday, was phenomenal,” marveled Valverde, ten years Quintana’s senior.

“The goal now is to try to maintain that podium position. Fighting for another victory will be difficult. We already have three wins so the objectives are complete. But if we get on the podium and win the teams title, the return will be great for us.”

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