For the second day running, searing attacks by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in the final climbs of the Vuelta a Espana did not produce any time gains for the veteran Spaniard. But there could be no questioning his gritty determination to try and make those attacks count.
Both on the ascent of La Paramera, where a sudden increase in pace by Movistar both shredded the front group and acted as a foundation for Valverde’s driving charges out of the pack, and again on the long descent into Avila, the Spaniard never stopped trying to unsettle the general classification group.
None of his attacks stuck as Astana and Tinkoff-Saxo regained control of the situation. Valverde’s last, and most tenacious move gained 12 seconds advantage at one point, but was sucked in for good on the lower stopes of the cobbled rise into Avila. “We tried it today, and we’ll try again tomorrow [Saturday],” Valverde said defiantly at the line. “When you have nothing to lose, you try, try and try again…”
Valverde was indifferent, he said, to the advantage gained by race leader Tom Dumoulin, pointing out that at this stage in the game, overall victory in the Vuelta is barely possible. Valverde is now sixth overall, 3:24 behind the Giant-Alpecin rider.
On the plus side, after Avila, with Andrey Amador and Fran Ventoso taking fourth and tenth in the 24-rider break, combined with Valverde and Quintana finishing in the main group, the Vuelta teams classification is all but settled in Movistar’s favour. Although the final mountain stage could alter things, the Spanish currently team have an advantage of 22:39 on Sky, and nearly half an hour on third placed Katusha.
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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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