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"I think I was a bit better than yesterday. I hope to continue to get better to fight tomorrow and get that podium spot for the team."

Photo: Unipublic

ALEJANDRO VALVERDE

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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NAIRO QUINTANA

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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06.09.2015 @ 20:25 Posted by Andy Pedersen

As it happened on the first big climb of the 2015 Vuelta a España in Caminito del Rey, an outstanding job from the Movistar Team wasn't seconded by the stage result in Sotres, steep end to stage fifteen, which the riders directed by Eusebio Unzué controlled almost entirely in search for the day's win.

 

Strong, intelligent pacing by the likes of Erviti, Sutherland, Ventoso and Rojas was constant from the very start, limiting gaps for a nine-man breakaway whose last survivor, Haimar Zubeldia (TFR), stuck to the front until the final two thousand metres. After keeping them on a leash around two minutes ahead and later let them grow their advantage towards 5 minutes, the 'Blue train' pushed on full steam until halfway through the decisive Jitu Escarandi (Cat-1), as Amador, Moreno and a phenomenal Visconti kept the rhythm high. An attack by Quintana with 10km to go, quickly neutralized by Astana, forced the Colombian to seek for his winning chances in the final slopes, where better condition by Rodríguez (KAT) bested his efforts. Quintana finished in 4th place, 15" down.

 

Alejandro Valverde defended himself on a steady pace for one more day to take 9th in the stage, which means that the Movistar's two GC riders stay in eighth and ninth overall, as Aru (AST) and Rodríguez are just 1 second apart in the lead. Monday will bring the final day of mountains in Asturias, arguably the race's queen stage over 185km and more than 5,000m vertical gain from Luarca to the Ermita de Alba (HC), also including the climbs of Aristébano (Cat-2), Piedratecha (Cat-2), Cabruñana (Cat-3), Tenebredo (Cat-2), Cordal (Cat-2) and Cobertoria (Cat-1) with almost no rest in between.

 

“Until the last two kilometres there was a headwind that helped everyone stay in the wheels," Quintana said. "It completely changes a climb. The final two kilometres required much more explosiveness. I tried to make the race harder at the foot of the climb but I saw that everyone was following and that we failed to make as much damage as we wanted. We just distanced Dumoulin. I think I was a bit better than yesterday. I hope to continue to get better to fight tomorrow and get that podium spot for the team.

 

“For me it's already a big prize to recover so quickly, remembering how I was badly struggling two days ago, riding between team cars, doing everything I could to stay into the race... being so sick and thinking of retiring from the race, and seeing how I performed yesterday and today - I think it's quite remarkable.

 

"I want to thank the whole team for taking care of me, believing in my chances and working as much as they did to seek for the win and make up a bit of time on the GC. I really wanted to try, but Purito and Aru remain really strong and I'm just getting back to my best form.

 

"I have looked at the Alba stage, and I like it, just like with any mountain stage. I hope to keep feeling as strong as I did today, or even a bit better. My main goal remains the GC podium."

 

“I’m not going to complain about my sensations today, I was feeling well for most of the day," Valverde siad. "What happens is that other riders are in a better shape than I am. I have to accept that.

 

"I knew than Joaquim was well. The finale was tailor-made for him and he had the legs to win. We saw yesterday that Nairo Quintana is better than. We wanted him to win today. Don’t talk to me about tomorrow, I will start by recuperating from today!

 

“We must thank all the team-mates for their phenomenal, extraordinary work today. At the end, it was our responsibility to crown that effort with a result, and Nairo was looking pretty well yesterday, but to be honest, Purito was quite superior today - hats off to him.

 

"You've got to accept what your real level is at the moment, and value everything that took you to this: it was a long season, a very successful one, with already a stage success here... one is not always as strong as he'd want to be, and we must remain happy.

 

"I'm already feeling the wear and tear of the whole season, after all the pressure I had to face until the very end of the Tour, to take that GC podium... it was really a fantastic season and we must applaud those who are strong enough to be ahead of us. We're still aspiring, I hope, to many things in this Vuelta. We'll fight to do so."

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