Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) put on an impressive display of riding during today’s final Ruta del Sol stage, to win not only the stage but the overall classification as well. 2nd on the day went to Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff) was 3rd.
A late change to the route by the organisers made the stage a fair bit more challenging as the category 1 Peñas Blancas was now going to be ridden twice during the stage. As only a matter of seconds separated the top 15 riders on the general classfication, a number of teams were eager to make the racing today. This was evident in the opening hour of the stage as attack followed attack without any real break going clear.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were constantly part of the action as our African Team were looking to secure a decent stage result. At one point Cameron Meyer was part of a large move of 11 riders that we thought might go clear, but Movistar brought everything back together once again. Eventually 3 riders got away with 80km to go but Team BMC kept the gap around a minute, before shutting it down completely by the foot of the final 14km ascent of Peñas Blancas.
Team Sky set a really hard early tempo on the climb, which drastically thinned out the peloton. With 8km to go, only 21 riders remained at the front of the race and our African Team was represented by Igor Anton and Omar Fraile. Team Sky soon ran out of resources though and Valverde saw this as his opportunity to pounce. The Movistar rider attacked with 6km to go and he would not be seen again. Anton followed the wheels of the main general classification contenders and a measured effort saw him finish the stage in 8th position.
Igor Anton – Rider
I knew how hard this stage was going to be because we did this same climb during the 2013 Vuelta a Espana. Today’s result has been really important for me and for my confidence. It was a small test which has allowed me to gauge my condition. Valverde was very strong but I could stay with the other GC contenders all the way to the finish. I am happy with where I am and I need to continue in this way.
Alex Sans Vega – Sport Director
It was a super hard day. The race started really fast with a new breaks constantly going off the front all the time. Movistar made the race especially hard. Halfway through the race, 3 riders got a lead that touched a 1’30” lead, but 2 of them were less than a minute down on GC. BMC chased hard until over the top of the 2nd last climb. When we started the final climb there was only 50 riders in the group. Omar did a great job supporting Igor who finished 8th, a nice result with some great Tour de France contenders in the mix.