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Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is the new leader of the Volta a Catalunya
UPDATE: No serious injuries for Spaniard and teammate Capecchi
One day after taking over the race lead at the Volta a Catalunya on the Vallter 2000 summit finish, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) crashed on a descent during today's queen stage and abandoned the race.
Approximately 119km into the 217.7km stage from Llanars-Vall de Camprodon to Port Ainé-Rialp, both Valverde and Movistar teammate Eros Capecchi, who would also withdraw, crashed while part of the main peloton. The race organisation had previously warned the peloton about the descent off an uncategorised climb which featured narrow roads with patches of dirt and gravel.
Valverde was transported to the team's race hotel where we was evaluated by team doctor Jesús Hoyos, while Capecchi was treated at a medical center in La Seu d'Urgell.
"They both don't have any serious injuries, but the blow was hard and Alejandro was feeling a bit dizzy," said Hoyos. "He has several bruises, especially on his left side, on the hip and the knee and a hard hit on his elbow." It was confirmed that neither rider sustained any broken bones in the crash.
Valverde explained what happened on the fateful descent, which caused the Spaniard to abandon the Volta a Catalunya for the second straight year.
"We knew that it was a tricky descent, but we were at the front, pushing," said Valverde. "Capecchi crashed and I couldn't avoid hitting him. It was a pretty hard impact, even more for him, because I almost fell over him.
"It seems like I'm not a lucky man when it comes to my Volta appearances. It's true that I was lucky enough to win it in 2009, but last year I also had to retire, and I really thought about it afterwards. I'm furious because I was feeling strong and had chances to win, but the important thing is that we have no injuries, plus our main goals are still really far away.
"At least, Nairo [Quintana] showed that he's capable leading the team, and made it to the front again. It's truly sad because we were making a strong duo, both feeling well, and today's was the key stage."
The Volta a Catalunya general classification was still very much an open affair entering today's stage with 2009 overall champion Alejandro Valverde leading both Bradley Wiggins (Sky) and 2010 overall champion Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) by just four seconds. 2011 champion Michele Scarponi held fourth overall at seven seconds as 11 riders all together were within 35 seconds of Valverde on general classification.
While losing Valverde and Capecchi is a heavy blow for Movistar, the Spanish squad still has a well-placed stage 3 winner Nairo Quintana to contest for overall victory. The 23-year-old Colombian started today's stage in sixth overall, 26 seconds behind Valverde, and moved into third overall after the conclusion of today's queen stage.