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Alejandro Valverde in the mountains jersey
Movistar manager Unzue warns of time trial and high mountains
Alejandro Valverde is more than satisfied with how the Vuelta a Espana is going for him and his Movistar Team. The former winner lies 4th overall, 1:07 behind race leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha Team) and with two stages to his name.
“The important thing is that we ended this first stint of the race with good feeling, we're still into GC contention and, above all, already with three stage victories that leave us very satisfied after this first week.”
“I knew I was going to be strong, but not in such a good fitness level,” he said on the team's website. “Sensations are still good as we head into the halfway point of the Vuelta, so we must profit from this moment for as long as possible. This doesn't change anything about what I said at the start of the race, and seeing that I'm here and as long as strength goes with me, I'll keep fighting for the GC.”
He is aware that it won't be easy. “The other three riders on top and myself are all close and that was visible at every important stage. At one day, there's one of us that's stronger that the rest, but we all are quite equal to each other, and we must keep it this way. I have much respect towards Froome, Purito and Alberto, but no fear whatsoever, and as well me as the team will make everything that's at our side to keep the winning streak alive."
Team manager Eusebio Unzué said the the first week of the race was “magnificent for us. The most surprising one might have been the victory in the TTT, but I can assure that we worked for that. The two wins from Alejandro could have been more predictable because we knew that, should he be feeling well, they were clear winning chances, and with those he confirmed his great fitness and, above all, his willingness to triumph.”
Looking at his captain's rivals, Unzue said, “In theory, as well Froome as Alberto are a step ahead, especially on time trialling, and the doubt is who of them will be stronger there. Purito and Alejandro must be a bit down that day, but I hope it to be just that, a little bit, even though the big mountains seem to be the decisive factor in this race.
He cautioned, though, that “we can't forget that these stages weren't real high mountain ones, with those coming on the next weekend. That, together with the ITT on Wednesday, will be the moment to assess what's the real difference between the favourites."