The last time he stood on a podium at the top of the Cauberg, Alejandro Valverde had claimed bronze in the World Championships, but this time he went one better to net the runner's-up spot behind Roman Kreuziger (Saxo-Tinkoff), out-powering Orica-GreenEDGE's Simon Gerrans. It was also one better than his previous top Amstel Gold result, third in 2008.
Talking to Cyclingnews as he pedalled steadily away from the podium area towards the Movistar team bus and a rest, Valverde said "I knew I was going well, I thought that a top-three placing was possible, and that's what I've got."
"The last part was complicated, but at the end of a race like this one it's more the legs that count than anything else. Basically I was waiting for Gilbert to make a move, we thought he'd do something like that and I went with him."
Valverde tried to follow Gilbert in the World's in 2012 and could not get across to him but this time besting him on the line was a good omen for the rest of the Ardennes Classics, according to the Movistart rider. He was, he said, "delighted that my form is picking up here. It's a good sign for Liège, which is a race I've targeted more than Amstel and which suits me the best, so my motivation couldn't be higher."
Asked if it stung a little to come so close to winning, Valverde said "I'm not disappointed at all. On the contrary, I'm happy to be second. Of course winning is better, but Roman rode a great race today and we have to congratulate him."
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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