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Valverde wins a fifth Ruta del Sol title as Wellens takes final stage

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Alejandro Valverde

Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) claimed the final stage of the Vuelta a Andalucia from a eight-man breakaway as Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) sealed his fifth overall victory.

Just over fifteen years since his pro debut, Valverde claimed his 100th victory in the sport’s top category, a figure only reached by three currently active riders: sprinters Mark Cavendish, André Greipel and Tom Boonen.

Valverde claimed overall honours in the 63rd edition of the Vuelta a Andalucía –his fifth GC success in the Spanish five-day course– after maintaining the one-second gap over Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo) at the final stage, 151km between Setenil de las Bodegas and Coín.

“I’m super happy. It was quite a fought race and it made it even more sweet to win. The team was superb, all of them – as with every victory I’ve achieved, I can’t thank them enough for their support. It wasn’t an easy day by any means: rain, cold temperatures, gusty winds… We all really suffered. At the end, that struggling made difficult to see any attacks, and so we secured this fifth victory in the race, which took so much to obtain. It obviously makes me happy to be celebrating 100 victories as a professional. It’s the sign of a fantastic career, one where above all I’ve enjoyed a lot riding my bike – and I hope I can improve those numbers in the future. There won’t be much time for celebrations, as Paris-Nice starts in two weeks’ time and it will be a big goal for us. Let’s hope the season continues this way”, said Valverde.

Tim Wellens, Marco Minnaard, Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide, Maciej Paterski, Victor Campenaerts, Nick Van der Lijke, Simon Clarke and Domen Novak escaped in the opening phase and built an advantage of more than six minutes.

The front group was reduced to six men in the finale as the pace was increased ahead of the final sprint, rather than riders looking at each other to take the initiative.

At the finish, Wellens once again confirmed his wet weather skills by crossing the line ahead of Clarke and Campenaerts.

“There was a lot of headwind in the beginning of the stage. Everyone was attentive and nervous. Still, we could get away with eight on an uphill section”, said Wellens. “We had to ride very hard to build a sufficient lead. When the gap rose from four to six minutes I believed we would battle for the stage win. In the finale I tried to get rid of the others, but my attempt was unsuccessful. With twenty kilometres to go we had three minutes advantage left, a big enough margin. In the break we were all scared of each other. Everyone was looking at the others and no one could get away. I started sprinting at two hundred metres from the finish. Beforehand, I wasn’t certain at all that I would win the sprint, but it was actually pretty convincing. I like it more to win this way than to finish solo. If I can choose it can be exciting.”

Vuelta a Andalucia 2017 – stage 5 results (Setenil de las Bodegas – Coín):

1Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal)

3:58:31

2Simon Clarke (Cannondale-Drapac)

,,

3Victor Campenaerts (LottoNl-Jumbo)

,,

4Maciej Paterski (CCC Sprandi Polkowice)

,,

5Domen Novak (Bahrain Merida)

,,

6Nick Van Der Lijke (Roompot – Nederlandse Loterij)

,,

7Marco Minnaard (Wanty – Groupe Gobert)

+01’34”

8Hector Saez (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA)

+01’45”

9Ivan Garcia (Bahrain Merida)

,,

10Hugo Hofstetter (Cofidis)

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Final general classification:

1Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

17:12:23

2Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo)

+01”

3Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)

+06”

4Wout Poels (Team Sky)

+21”

5Diego Rosa (Team Sky)

+45”

6Mikel Landa (Team Sky)

+48”

7Sebastien Reichenbach (FDJ)

+52”

8Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac)

+01’29”

9Ondrej Cink (Bahrain Merida)

+01’48”

10Javier Moreno (Bahrain Merida)

+01’50”

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