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by Shane Stokes
February 2, 2018
Valverde takes emotional victory on stage 2 of Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana; Carnage in the crosswinds: How a chaotic stage 1 of the Sun Tour unfolded; Laporte seizes stage 2 victory at Etoile de Besseges over embarrassed Coquard; Report: Froome case moves next step towards judgement; Giro race director calls on UCI to clarify Froome situation; New sea-level world record for Glaetzer at Australian track nationals; Brodie Chapman’s journey from unknown rider to Herald Sun Tour champ; Quintana and Henao spearhead Movistar and Sky teams in new Colombian race; LeMond takes up special roles with Velodrome Development Foundation and World Cycling League; Atlantic City set to host 2018 USA Crits series finals; Time Alpe d’Huez climbing bike unveiled; SRAM launches its first direct-mount rim brake, the S-900; Analysing the Strava/secret military instalments fiasco; Video: Netherlands builds highway for bikes
Already showing strong form in last week’s Challenge Mallorca, Alejandro Valverde returned to winning ways on day two of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. The Spanish veteran proved he had put his double fracture from last year’s Tour de France fully behind him when he won a three man sprint to the line, beating Astana duo Luis León Sanchez and Jakob Fuglsang to the line.
The trio used the final climb before the finish in Albuixech as their platform, with Fuglsang sparking the move, Valverde answering it and Sanchez getting across on the descent. Over 20 kilometres remained but while a Team Sky-led chase group floored it in pursuit, they were unable to get across.
Valverde in particular was riding very strongly out front, and the trio were able to build a 30 second lead and then hold onto 19 seconds by the finish. There, Fuglsang led out for his teammate, but Valverde was too strong; he struck out from the front and was able to hold on all the way to the line.
“At the Garbí climb I was feeling like I had good legs and decided to attack, profiting from the fact that Fuglsang had moved meters before,” he said, speaking 276 days after his last victory (at Liège-Bastogne-Liège) and 215 days after his crash on stage one of the Tour. “Luisle bridged back into the downhill and we really got on well with each other afterwards. That good cooperation and the fact that we three were all strong riders made it possible to reach the finish, even if Sky and other squads pushed with all they had.
“It makes me so, so happy to get this victory after everything I had to go through during the last few months. The seconds we put on the rest today might become decisive, too.” He is now six seconds clear of Sanchez heading into Friday’s 30.5 kilometre team time trial.