Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) opened his account for 2015 on Saturday by soloing to victory at the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana, the third leg of the Challenge Mallorca, and the 34-year-old quipped afterwards that he is improving with age.
Part of an early break of 26 riders, Valverde set off alone with over 30 kilometres of Saturday’s race remaining and he cruised home to victory some 1:23 clear of Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol), while Sky’s Leopold Konig took third.
“The older I get, the better I am,” Valverde said afterwards, according to AS. “The truth is that I’m very happy and I feel very good. The winter went very well for me and now I want to gather the fruits of that work.”
Valverde had already finished in second place in Friday’s Trofeo Andratx behind Steve Cummings (MTN-Qhubeka), who managed to hold him off on the final haul up the Mirador d'Es Colomer. Movistar had spent much of that race controlling the peloton but on Saturday, the Spanish squad opted to go on the offensive early on.
Valverde’s teammates Jesus Herrada, Javier Moreno and Francisco Ventoso helped to force the initial 26-man break after just 40 kilometres of racing, and the Spaniard finished off their work in emphatic fashion in the finale. It was the third time that Valverde has won a leg of his opening race of the year in the four seasons since he returned from a doping ban at the beginning of 2012.
“It was a difficult race with a lot of breaks,” Valverde said. “There were also some significant crashes because it was very fast. We decided to go hard from the beginning and when we got in a good breakaway, it encouraged us to continue. I decided to go solo when I realised they were closing behind.
“Yesterday we worked more and didn’t get the win. Today, maybe we worked a little less, but we’ve been rewarded.”
Valverde’s victory was Movistar’s third of the new season following Juan José Lobato’s stage win at the Tour Down Under and Adriano Malori’s victory in the time trial at the Tour de San Luis. “The team is terrific and highly-motivated like last year,” said Valverde, who will again target the Ardennes Classics in 2015 before lining up at the Tour de France alongside Nairo Quintana.