In the first of the two days that the Vuelta runs through the province of Alicante, a show was expected due to the conclusion in a port of Primera. Would Primoz Roglic give a new blow of authority? Would Enric Mas confirm the good feelings of previous stages? Could INEOS and Movistar put Jumbo, the leader’s team, in trouble? However, the fall of Valverde 40 kilometers from the end, going down the port of El Collao, marked everything. Just as hostilities were raging, with the veteran rider leading his teammates as the promoter of a distant attack that had left Roglic without teammates.
The scare with Valverde was championship. The Murcian saw how his front wheel jumped and ended up losing control. He skidded along the asphalt until he found the exit in a small ravine. He still had a point of fortune, as it passed near the highway guardrail. His initial reaction has already left a bad body. He put his hand to his collarbone and said he wanted to get off the bike. After a medical examination, he continued the journey, but finally made the most painful decision for a cyclist: to abandon.
Valverde’s scare was a kind of moral slab for the favorites. The race was launched, but it fell asleep again from behind, even though Richard Carapaz and the INEOS, at first, tried to keep it alive. This fact was definitive so that the escapees could play the victory among themselves at the Balcón de Alicante.
The day’s escape was made up of about thirty cyclists, with prominent names such as Sepp Kuss, Jack Haig, Pavel Sivakov o Romain Bardet. Among them, several Spaniards. Álex Aranburu, Gorka Izagirre, Carlos Verona and Jesús Herrada, the most prominent. There was a level to put the peloton on the ropes and it was achieved, especially after the break caused by the fall of Valverde. Already fully in the province of Alicante, after ascending the aforementioned port of El Collao and connecting with that of Tibi, a trio left ahead: Michael Storer, Pavel Sivakov y Lawson Craddock.
The latter was short-lived and the first two were not cut when waxing. Behind, Bardet, Storer’s companion, guarded his back, acting as the perfect protector in case someone wanted to jump for the two men at the head of the race.
On the ascent to the Balcón de Alicante, without the encouragement of the public for security reasons against possible forest fires, Carlos Verona (Movistar) started in the second group. I do not know if informed by the misfortune of Valverde, the Spanish pulled claw to try to pay tribute to his partner. There were moments in which the epic seemed written, but finally he met a very strong Storer, who knew how to measure his strength better than anyone and ended up raising his arms on the Alicante peak. He will go down in history as the first to do so in the Tour of Spain.
This is the third professional victory for the 24-year-old Australian, who last year was third in a stage of the Spanish round. On the Balcón de Alicante he was consecrated, on a great day, finalizing a high-level getaway. And, incidentally, taking advantage of the scare in the body with which the squad of favorites rolled in the final stretch of the first day of Alicante. Roglic held the lead for just eight seconds and, except for Mikel Landa and the unfortunate Valverde, no one gave up time.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.