Alejandro Valverde's decision to skip the Tour of Flanders has proved fruitful with the Spaniard taking a solo win at the GP Miguel Indurain. Valverde was 11th at Dwars Door Vlaanderen on Wednesday and was on the cusp of making his debut at De Ronde. The 37-year-old though decided against racing the Belgian monument to line at Movistar's home race where he added to his 2014 triumph.
Valverde was 40th on his season debut at Trofeo Campos, Porreres, Felanitx, Ses Salines, his first race after breaking his kneecap at the 2017 Tour de France, with 11th at Dwars door Vlaanderen his lowest result since. The GP Miguel Indurain is now Valverde's ninth win of the season after also tasting success with stage and overall success at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Abu Dhabi Tour, and Volta a Catalunya.
"Yes, another one! I'm super happy to win this race because everything that meant for the team, with that tribute to José Miguel Echávarri by the event's organisers. It's always a beautiful event, but I was especially willing to come here this season and be present, because of him," Valverde said of his former team manager.
With two kilometres to race, Valverde made his winning move with time to soak in the occasion and celebration his victory without worry of being caught by Carlos Verona and Nick Schultz who rounded out the podium.
"It was a fast race, a quite windy one, yet the team kept everything under control all day, pacing themselves brilliantly," he added. "There were many teams trying to go on the attack into that final circuit -Mitchelton and Katusha were the ones making things hardest for us-, but we make the right moves and at the Eraul climb, I decided to attack and [Carlos] Verona and myself could stay away. Hats off to Carlos, because his performance today against me was excellent."
Valverde won't defend his Vuelta a Pais Vasco title from Monday where Mikel Landa and Nairo Quintana will lead the team, preferring instead to race the one-day Klasika Primavera next Sunday. The Spanish race his final tune-up before heading to the Ardennes where Valverde is aiming to add to his five La Flèche Wallonne and four Liège-Bastogne-Liège titles and win a maiden Amstel Gold Race.
"All in all, I'm happy about this victory, about the spectacle we brought to the fans and even more surprised about the fitness level I'm being able to keep," he said. "I remain amazed by how smooth things are going after my injury. I just can't thank enough all doctors and physiotherapists helping me out on my recovery process, as well as my family and all fans for their incredible support since my crash back in July. Next week I'll be at the start of the Klasika Primavera in Amorebieta prior to Amstel, Flèche and Liège, which will be my final races before my first rest period this season."
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