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Valverde runs out of steam in Strade Bianche finale

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Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
(Image credit: Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) pushes the pace in the breakaway

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) pushes the pace in the breakaway
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Sagan, Valverde and Stybar in the late breakaway

Sagan, Valverde and Stybar in the late breakaway
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

When Alejandro Valverde forced the winning breakaway after having his Movistar team control the race at Strade Bianche for much of the day, it seemed that the Spaniard, as the most accomplished climber of the trio with Greg Van Avermaet and Zdenek Stybar, would be the man to beat in the uphill finish. Instead, Valverde was the first man dropped in the finale, and he admitted after the race that he probably did too much work.

“I tried to show that attitude the fans ask us to bring to the races, and that's why I'm super happy with my performance today," Valverde said. "I took command of the race far from the finish, always going for all the moves and creating some myself, and that might have made me reach the finish not as strong as I'd have liked to."

Valverde made the winning selection when the peloton split with more than 40km left to race. Movistar controlled the early breakaway until Tinkoff-Saxo, Sky, Astana and BMC pushed to the front ahead of the Monte Sante Marie, but Valverde was well positioned with the critical move came.

"The work from the start by the whole team was fantastic. The gusty winds today made important to stay in good position all the time, and as we started all sections of 'sterrato' on front, we gained much confidence."

Valverde took the reins to distance some of the elite group of riders, including last year's runner up Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo), Fabian Cancellara (Trek) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). He brought along Van Avermaet, Stybar, and briefly Sep Vanmarcke (LottoNl-Jumbo), inside the 20km to go mark. The effort to get rid of Cancellara might have burned up a few too many matches considering the intense final kilometer ahead.

"Surely I might have taken a bit too much of an effort, but on the other hand, we have to value what Van Avermaet and Stybar did," Valverde said. "They're tremendously talented, they're specialists in these race and they might even come in better condition than I did, considering they're supposed to peak for {the Tour of Flanders] and [Paris-]Roubaix and they rode an important race like Omloop Het Nieuwsblad last Saturday. I took some gels at 5k to go, hoping I would recover a bit as I was feeling empty, but I wasn't able and I also started to cramp - I really had to stay content with third place.

"Still, I'm really happy with my job and all the team's - I really feel great. Now it's time for some days of rest and building up a bit more so we can reach the Volta a Catalunya, my next race, in better condition."