Great debut in De Ronde
“I’ve been closer than I expected.” With this sentence, Alejandro Valverde summed up his performance in one of the most complicated races of the calendar, both by course and by rivals. The expected premiere of the world champion in the Tour of Flanders ended with an eighth place which is the best result in this century for a winner of a Grand Tour.
Valverde had the help of a magnificent Movistar Team. He was in the head of the race in the decisive sections of the Koppenberg or the Taaienberg, in an increasingly smaller group, dominated by the usual names in this type of races. He could not do anything against the hard attack of Alberto Bettiol (Education First) in the third step by Oude Kwaremont. However, he still could resist the final selection in the definitive Paterberg and try it, with Bettiol still in sight, in the final kilometers that lead to Oudenaarde.
The final Top 10 not only demonstrates once again the versatility of a cyclist from another era, but also reveals the personality and character of the rainbow jersey.
Quotes: I’m really happy with today’s race. It was a very demanding one with all the nerves, the stress, having to find a good position all the time. But once the group became smaller and smaller, I started to feel great, climbed the hills further ahead into the group, and all in all, I leave really satisfied with my performance. I came way closer to the victory than I expected. As we approached the finish, our rivals were struggling and it was easier to come back, stay near the front – I was feeling really good. I don’t know if I’ll still have a chance to win this in the upcoming years, because knowing these roads well is key, but I did really well. I’m really looking forward to coming back, and finishing inside the favourites’ group today gives me loads of confidence.
Photo: Bettini Photo