Valverde: “Horner was unstoppable - he seems like the one to beat right now”
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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Valverde: “Horner was unstoppable - he seems like the one to beat right now”

by Shane Stokes at 6:36 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
Spaniard paces his effort well to recover from difficult moment on final climb

Alejandro ValverdeBriefly getting into some difficulty but holding onto his third place with a determined performance, Alejandro Valverde has conceded that Chris Horner may be too strong to compete with in this year’s Vuelta a España.

Horner attacked the other general classification contenders on today’s final climb to Peña Cabarga, opening a twenty second gap over Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Movistar’s Valverde, and a twenty five second advantage over race leader Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Nicolas Roche (Team Saxo Tinkoff).

The time gain saw the 41 year old end the day just three seconds behind Nibali in the overall standings. Despite his age and long period without racing this year, with two mountain stages left ahead Horner is looking like the favourite to win the race.

“When one gives his best, he has to be satisfied about it,” said Valverde, speaking about his own performance. “The team worked a lot and I must thank all of them for their support. Horner was unstoppable - he seems like the one to beat right now, but we could still keep the pace of Nibali and Purito.”

Valverde was initially distanced when the group split on the final climb, but paced himself well and was able to fight back on. He said that one issue was a lack of knowledge of the ascent.

“I didn't know the Peña Cabarga climb, and it's really hard. Actually, I thought the final part was even harder, but when I saw the final 300 meters, I knew I could go full gas because it wasn't so steep,” he said. “I had a 39 crankset and a 29 cassette - I think my choice was right.

“I went through a critical moment when Purito jumped away with Dani Moreno: I had to drop out of the group before the other guys and keep my own pace,” he continued. “I knew I couldn't keep that speed for long. Going on my own, I could finish better than the rest, reaching Purito and even putting five seconds into Nibali.”

He is now one minute and nine seconds behind the race leader and one minute six off the time of Horner. Valverde has a solid one minute fifteen on Rodriguez and two minutes 34 on Roche, and must be fancying his chances of finishing on the podium in Madrid.

Two tough stages remain, and much can still change. Valverde can’t be sure what will happen, but resolves to battle as hard as he can. “We will have another demanding stage at the Naranco tomorrow, but the Angliru will be even harder,” he said.

“They say Saturday will bring some rain, and that would make roads more dangerous, but we will only have one option: giving 100%. For the time being, we must recover and keep fighting on tomorrow's stage.”


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