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by Matt de Neef
February 26, 2018
In today’s edition of the CT Daily News Digest: Michael Valgren wins the men’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad; Christina Siggaard a surprise winner in the women’s Omloop Het Nieuwsblad; Dylan Groenewegen takes out Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne; Alejandro Valverde victorious at the Abu Dhabi Tour; Ellen van Dijk rides to Omloop van het Hageland victory; Hannah Barnes wins the Setmana Ciclista Valenciana; Astana in doubt due to ‘critical’ funding issues; Martin Vestby joins Mitchelton-Scott women’s team as sports director; Dumoulin’s Abu Dhabi dummy-spit; Photo galleries from NAHBS.
If his win at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana didn’t make it clear that Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is back near his best, then the Spaniard’s performance at the Abu Dhabi Tour certainly did. Valverde, who didn’t race for nearly seven months after crashing out of last year’s Tour de France, took overall honours at the Abu Dhabi Tour courtesy of a victory on yesterday’s final stage.
At the top of the 10.8km stage-ending climb to Jebel Hafeet, Valverde outsprinted Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) to take the stage win and the overall victory. Valverde had made his move from an elite group with 2.9km to go, quickly bridging to lone leader Lopez. The pair would finish 15 seconds ahead of Julian Alaphilippe (QuickStep Floors) who was third from a small chase group behind.
Valverde had been eighth overall going into the final stage, with Australia’s Rohan Dennis (BMC) at the top of the GC after winning the stage 4 individual time trial. Time trial world champion Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) had a mechanical issue which eventually cost him 31 seconds. It wouldn’t be his last mechanical of the tour (see below).
Dennis would drop 1:43 on the final stage, leaving Valverde victorious ahead of Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) and Lopez.
“I started in Mallorca with really good feelings, could confirm in the Tour of Valencia I was in really good shape and up until now,” Valverde said. “I am really happy with what I’m doing, my team, all the guys I have around me. I know I’m a rider that gets big wins during the season and I’m always there.”