Valverde wins Vuelta Murcia with solo attack

Movistar rider dominates on home roads

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won the Vuelta Ciclista a la Region de Murcia – his home race – for a fifth time thanks to an aggressive solo attack some 70km from the finish.

The veteran Spanish rider attacked in the mist on the Collado Bermejo climb and then fought a headwind to win alone, with the rest of the race unable to pull him back. Jhonatan Restrepo (Katusha-Alpecin) beat Patrick Konrad (Bora-hansgrohe) to win the sprint for second place, 2:10 down on Valverde.

The Spanish race has been reduced from a stage race to a one-day affair, but that only seemed to motivate Valverde, who is proud of his Murcia origins.

"It's always special for me to win on home roads – this victory goes to all the people in this region, who always cheer for me so much when I'm racing abroad. It truly is the most beautiful of the five I've achieved here; it was a big effort and so tough to keep up against the wind and the climbs to win here," Valverde said.

Strong winds, hard racing

The strong wind made for a hard day out, splitting the peloton early on. Sam Bewley (Orica-Scott), Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling) and Jelle Wallays (Lotto Soudal) formed an early break, but the Movistar team pulled them back, sending out an ominous sign that Valverde was keen to win on home roads.

Movistar brought the race back together at the foot of the Alto Collado Bermejo (8.4km at 6,7 percent) and then Valverde took over despite more than 70km left to race. He attacked at the bottom of the climb, followed by Jon Izagirre (Bahrain-Merida), Tjesj Benoot and Gallopin (Lotto Soudal), Simon Spilak (Katusha) and Garikoitz Bravo (Euskadi). However, they failed to get onto his wheel and Valverde took advantage of the misty conditions and local knowledge of the decent to push on alone.

He had a 2:25 lead after the descent, with 35km to go, with the chasers eventually caught by the peloton.

Valverde had been hoping for some help from a small group but decided to push on alone and time trialled to the finish. He reached Murcia with a two-minute lead and so was able to celebrate his solo victory in front of his local crowd.

"It really was hard, mainly because of those strong headwinds in the later part of the race down to Murcia. I had planned to jump from the bottom of the Collado Bermejo, and I had my teammates pushing hard from the Aledo part of the climb, but I was really hoping for someone to come from behind and take some turns with me. In the end, I saw I was alone and so I told to myself: 'I keep going on the descent, and should they catch me, maybe I can go for it in the sprint, and if they do, I'll win'," Valverde explained.

"I just had to give it a try, even if it was so far away from the finish and it was a long shot, but that was the only point where I could win solo from. I took that chance, and I succeeded."

Ready for the Ruta del Sol

Valverde's victory confirmed he is already on form before riding next week's Ruta del Sol stage race where he will clash with Alberto Contador.

"After Nairo's success in Valencia, things are looking really promising for us this season - it's just taking from where we left off, after we won those four consecutive WorldTour titles all the way up to 2016," Valverde said.

"Now it's about having some rest and taking the start of the Ruta del Sol on Wednesday. There, we'll find Alberto Contador and many other big riders, and we will have to try and continue this streak."

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team4:03:08 
2Jhonatan Restrepo (Col) Katusha-Alpecin0:02:10 
3Patrick Konrad (Aut) Bora-Hansgrohe  
4Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
5Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin  
6Jon Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Bahrain-Merida  
7Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Orica-Scott  
8Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
9Pieter Weening (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
10Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe  
11Felix Grossschartner (Aut) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
12Romain Sicard (Fra) Direct Energie  
13Marc Soler Gimenez (Spa) Movistar Team  
14Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country - Murias  
15Javier Moreno Bazan (Spa) Bahrain-Merida  
16David Belda (Spa) Burgos-BH  
17Hector Saez Benito (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA  
18Daniel Navarro Garcia (Spa) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
19Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Movistar Team  
20Ruben Fernandez Andujar (Spa) Movistar Team  
21Simon Špilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin  
22Robert Kišerlovski (Cro) Katusha-Alpecin  
23Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal0:02:25 
24Lukasz Owsian (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice0:04:07 
25Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
26Jan Tratnik (Slo) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
27Yoann Offredo (Fra) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
28Guillaume Bonnafond (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
29Colin Joyce (USA) Rally Cycling0:04:41 
30Elmar Reinders (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
31Egoitz Fernandez Ayarzaguena (Spa) Team UKYO  
32Etienne Van Empel (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
33Martijn Budding (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
34Diego Rubio Hernandez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA  
35Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
36Maciej Paterski (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
37Eliot Lietaer (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
38Alexander Aranburu Deva (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA  
39Antonio Molina Canet (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA  
40Luka Pibernik (Slo) Bahrain-Merida  
41Christopher Butler (USA) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA  
42Salvador Guardiola (Spa) Team UKYO  
43Frederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
44Sepp Kuss (USA) Rally Cycling  
45Sergey Firsanov (Rus) Gazprom – Rusvelo  
46Brian Nauleau (Fra) Direct Energie  
47Jeroen Meijers (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
48Yoann Bagot (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
49Beñat Txoperena Matxikote (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country - Murias  
50Igor Merino Kortazar (Spa) Burgos-BH  
51Mikel Bizkarra Etxegibel (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country - Murias  
52Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
53Robert Britton (Can) Rally Cycling  
54Evan Huffman (USA) Rally Cycling  
55Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe  
56José Mendes (Por) Bora-Hansgrohe  
57Jérôme Baugnies (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
58Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) Orica-Scott  
59Perrig Quemeneur (Fra) Direct Energie0:11:07 
60Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe  
61Jelle Wallays (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
62Paul Ourselin (Fra) Direct Energie  
63Maxime Farazijn (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
64Kevin Deltombe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
65David Per (Slo) Bahrain-Merida  
66Rayane Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
67Ivan Moreno Sanchez (Spa) Spain  
68Thomas Degand (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
69Frederik Backaert (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
70Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits  
71Ibai Salas Zorrozua (Spa) Burgos-BH  
72Adam De Vos (Can) Rally Cycling  
73Jens Wallays (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
74Antonio Pedrero Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team  
75Marcin Mrozek (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
76Oscar Pujol (Spa) Team UKYO  
77Dmitriy Kozontchuk (Rus) Gazprom – Rusvelo  
78Mathew Hayman (Aus) Orica-Scott  
79Alexander Foliforov (Rus) Gazprom – Rusvelo  
80Benjami Prades (Spa) Team UKYO  
81Antonio Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida  
82Benjami Prades (Spa) Team UKYO  
83Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
84Stéphane Rossetto (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:21:07 
85Jerome Cousin (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits0:21:11 
86Justin Oien (USA) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA0:25:54 
87Luka Mezgec (Slo) Orica-Scott  
88Eduardo Llacer Gabarron (Spa) Spain  
89Miguel Angel Ballesteros Canovas (Spa) Spain  
90Ruben Pols (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
91Jeremy Cornu (Fra) Direct Energie  
92Ángel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha-Alpecin  
93Piotr Brozyna (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
94Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin  
95Leszek Plucinski (Pol) CCC Sprandi Polkowice  
96Imanol Estevez Salas (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country - Murias0:29:53 
97Julen Irizar Laskurain (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country - Murias  
98Jose Daniel Viejo Redondo (Spa) Unieuro Trevigiani - Hemus 1896  
99Marcos Jurado Rodriguez (Spa) Spain  
100Josu Zabala Lopez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA  
101Adrian Gonzalez Velasco (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country - Murias  
102José Carlos Nuñez (Spa) Dare Viator Partizan  
103Igor Boev (Rus) Gazprom – Rusvelo  
104Jarl Salomein (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise  
105Marco Mathis (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin  
106Tim Ariesen (Ned) Roompot - Nederlandse Loterij  
107Sam Bewley (NZl) Orica-Scott  
108Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) Wanty - Groupe Gobert  
109Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal  
110Danny Pate (USA) Rally Cycling  
111Kirill Sveshnikov (Rus) Gazprom – Rusvelo0:30:19 
112Roman Maikin (Rus) Gazprom – Rusvelo  
113Domen Novak (Slo) Bahrain-Merida  
114Tanzou Tokuda (Jpn) Team UKYO  
DNFJorge Arcas Peña (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFJasha Sütterlin (Ger) Movistar Team  
DNFYoshimitsu Hiratsuka (Jpn) Team UKYO  
DNFRomain Cardis (Fra) Direct Energie  
DNFJens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-Scott  
DNFJan Bárta (Cze) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFSilvio Herklotz (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe  
DNFRaul Castrillo Sedano (Spa) Burgos-BH  
DNFAlvaro Robredo Crespo (Spa) Burgos-BH  
DNFJoan Ruiz Vicens (Spa) Burgos-BH  
DNFJavier Fuentes Jorda (Spa) Spain  
DNFRuben Montoya Lopez (Spa) Spain  
DNFEusebio Pascual Bonhome (Spa) Spain  
DNFCarlos Lorente Garcia (Spa) Dare Viator Partizan  
DNFJavier Valero Amat (Spa) Dare Viator Partizan  
DNFÓscar Sánchez (Spa) Dare Viator Partizan  
DNFMiguel Calatayud Feo (Spa) Dare Viator Partizan  
DNFFrancisco Jose Castello Dobon (Spa) Dare Viator Partizan  
DNFAnder Barrenetxea Uriarte (Spa) Euskadi Basque Country - Murias  
DNFIon Ander Insausti Irastorza (Spa) Bahrain-Merida  
DNFEric Young (USA) Rally Cycling  
DNFEvgeny Shalunov (Rus) Gazprom – Rusvelo  
DNFYusuke Hatanaka (Jpn) Team UKYO  
Mountains Classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team13 pts
2Ion Izaguirre (Spa) Bahrain - Merida8 
3Ruben Fernandez (Spa) Movistar Team6 
4Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto Soudal4 
5Simon Spilak (Slo) Katusha-Alpecin2 
6Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal2 
7Antonio Pedrero (Spa) Movistar Team2 
8Jhonatan Restrepo (Col) Katusha-Alpecin1 
9Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe1 
10Marc Soler (Spa) Movistar Team1 
Sprint Classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team3 pts
2Sam Bewley (NZl) Orica-Scott3 
3Jorge Arcas Peña (Spa) Movistar Team2 
4Romain Sicard (Fra) Direct Energie2 
5Ruben Pols (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen - Baloise1 
6Chris Juul Jensen (Den) Orica - Scott1  

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