Tim­ing per­fect from Spain’s Valverde

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - RUGBY LEAGUE -

CY­CLING: Ale­jan­dro Valverde de­liv­ered a Span­ish stage win at La Vuelta as Team Sky’s Michal Kwiatkowski took over the red jer­sey.

Mo­vis­tar’s Valverde put a dis­ap­point­ing Tour de France be­hind him by hold­ing off race leader Kwiatkowski in the fi­nal 50 me­tres of the 163.5km sec­ond stage from Mar­bella to Caminito del Rey.

“I had an ex­tremely dif­fi­cult Tour de France and I didn’t have all the sen­sa­tions I wanted,” said Valverde af­ter de­light­ing the home fans.

“So I was ba­si­cally train­ing hard to make it for La Vuelta. Thank­fully our plan suc­ceeded and I’m re­ally happy to take this vic­tory be­cause I just couldn’t have done it any ear­lier.

“I cal­cu­lated re­ally well the dis­tance to go and just tried to keep some­thing back for the fin­ish.”

An early at­tack saw a sev­en­strong group break away from the pelo­ton but that was down to two, Alexis Gougeard (AG2R-La Mon­di­ale) and Pierre Rol­land (Ed­u­ca­tion First-Dra­pac), with 20km to go.

The pair were grad­u­ally reeled in and Valverde showed his strength to out-sprint Kwiatkowski, with Lau­rens De Plus (Quick-Step Floors) fin­ish­ing third, three sec­onds back.

The pre­vi­ous day’s time trial win­ner Ro­han Den­nis (BMC) had a dif­fi­cult day, suf­fer­ing an early punc­ture be­fore be­ing dropped with 17km to go as the pace in­ten­si­fied.

Kwiatkowski, the Pole who fin­ished sec­ond in Satur­day’s open­ing time-trial, holds a 14-sec­ond ad­van­tage over Valverde head­ing into Mon­day’s 178.2km stage be­tween Mijas and Al­hau­rin de la Torre.

On Satur­day, Aus­tralian na­tional cham­pion Den­nis won time trial ahead of Team Sky’s Michal Kwiatkowski in Malaga.

Den­nis com­pleted the eight kilo­me­tre cir­cuit in a time of nine min­utes 39 sec­onds, six sec­onds ahead of Kwiatkowski.

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