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"This start of the season is amazing for me, impossible to beat. Not only because of the wins, but also the sensations. I'm 33 years old, but I feel stronger and stronger every year. Let's hope it keeps going on this way,"...

Photo: Sirotti

ALEJANDRO VALVERDE

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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ROMA MAXIMA

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09.03.2014 @ 20:28 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Alejandro Valverde continued his excellent start to the season when he won today's Roma Maxima after an impressive display from both himself and the Movistar team. Having kept the peloton at bay for more then 30km despite a headwind, the Spaniard claims to never have felt better than he does right now.

 

Enormous ambition, courage and class only reachable by the best riders in the peloton, just like him. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) claimed one of his most beautiful victories as professional cyclist in the 2nd edition of Roma Maxima.

 

The Spaniard crowned in the Via dei Fori Imperiali, next to the Colosseo, a splendid offensive from his team which had taken control in the bunch all day to protect the chances of their leader on Italian soil.

 

With the day's break just under one minute's distance as they hit the last climb on the route, the Campi di Annibale 40km from the finish, Valverde responded to the work by his teammates with a first move which strung out the field. Seconded in his action by Nairo Quintana, Valverde attacked again and opened a gap in the hardest part of the ascent together with Domenico Pozzovivo who would be his only companion in the next kilometres.

 

Behind, Quintana rolled at the back of a twelve-man pursuit group, where the lack of cooperation between its members gave Valverde wings, the Murcian fully committed to his chances.

 

Valverde and Pozzovivo took themselves into the finishing straight with the bunch in sight, yet the Spaniard still had energy for one last kick that awarded him his sixth success of the 2014 season - now tied with André Greipel as the most winning rider so far - and gave the Movistar Team their ninth victory this year.

 

'I'm super happy, it was a great victory," Valverde said. "It all went perfectly for us, but we deserved it: the team was sensational and took control of the race all day, so we could get to the climbs with all chances to succeed.

 

"On the last climb, we did what we had planned before the start: attacking, Nairo and myself, one by one, to break the bunch into pieces. It wasn't easy, because although the pace was high, the rivals were sitting on our wheels and always gives you much more energy.

 

"However, we kept on insisting, and such constance was the key for success. Eventually, I went away with Pozzovivo. Though I led on the first part of the descent, he helped me out quickly and was a loyal break companion; it's sad he couldn't take second, because he deserved to be on the podium.

 

"Once we made that gamble, we had to dig deep until the very end. I went on full steam all the time, despite the headwind in the last 30k. I didn't know either how many riders were behind, and Pozzovivo told me in the finale he was suffering a lot. That's why I led the two of us through the last kilometer, controlling the gap with the peloton and looking for my distance in the sprint.  I knew I had the legs and a decent gap to make it.

 

"This start of the season is amazing for me, impossible to beat. Not only because of the wins, but also the sensations. I'm 33 years old, but I feel stronger and stronger every year. Let's hope it keeps going on this way.'

 

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