The Movistar veteran beat Alessandro Covi (UAE Team Emirates) and Jhonatan Restrepo (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) in the uphill sprint in Caronia on the northern coast of the Italian island, but then hit a cable cover beyond the finish line while looking back and crashed over the top of his handlebars.
It was Valverde’s first victory since fracturing his collarbone and quitting the Vuelta a España, and confirmed he had retained some form after riding indoors. However he was left bleeding, embarrassed and in pain after his crash.
"I’d have preferred not to win and not fall. When you crash, you don’t know what it leads to,” Valverde said.
Valverde took the Giro di Sicilia’s red and yellow leader’s jersey thanks to his stage win but was unsure if the crash would affect him defending the race lead during Friday’s hilly final stage over the foothills of Mount Etna to Mascali.
“I don’t think there’ll be any consequences. For now we are going to sleep on it and we’ll see how we are," he said.
"I’m very happy to get this victory. We came up with the idea of going for it and it worked out, even with that unexpected ending.
“A win gives me a lot of peace of mind. In recent weeks I’ve been able to train well, I’ve recovered quickly and I’ve demonstrated I’m feeling good. The objective is to try to get the form to be at the front of the race next Saturday at Il Lombardia. I know it’ll be difficult, but winning in Sicilia is a bonus.”
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