For the second year in a row, Alejandro Valverde was very close to winning his sixth Vuelta a Murcia. The world champion gave in to his compatriot Luis León Sánchez (Astana) in a beautiful duel in the final kilometers of a race that this season recovered a second stage.
The Movistar Team rider could not against the numerical superiority of the Astana team on the first day of the race, finishing in fourth position in San Javier. Alto del Cabezo de la Plata left ahead to the seven strongest men of the race.
Collado Bermejo and the Cresta del Gallo, just 15 km from the finish line in Murcia, marked the course of the second stage. Valverde attacked with violence in the final climb and crowned with a difference of 7” over his countryman, who reached him just after finishing the descent. Who wins the stage would also get general classification. Luis León, with the yellow jersey behind, saved his legs to overcome Valverde in the sprint and add his second consecutive success in this race.
Statements: “Racing in my home region with this jersey on for the last two days already was a victory for me. Every race I take the start of has that special feeling in the rainbow colours. If I’m able to win after that, it’s even better, but I feel like we’re doing just fine at the moment. Runner-up in Valencia, 2nd again here – we’re still missing a victory, but I’m close, and my legs on the climbs feel really good, close or even better than the strongest guys uphill. At the Cresta del Gallo, I knew Luisle could make up some terrain against me in the downhill, but I had to give it a try with all I had. I jumped solo, though the gap I had built wasn’t enough for Luisle not to catch me. We had a couple of good turns together as he caught me, but later on, he started saving more energy because he still had the race leader behind from his own team and couldn’t continue to push. That energy I spent in the end helped him win. In the end, it’s one-two for our Murcia region, just like last year, in both the stage and overall – it’s good to have someone from here win and continue to show some of the best cyclists in the world are from Murcia.”
Photo: Movistar Team / Photo Gómez Sport