2/19/2013 12:00:00 AM - TEAM NEWS!

Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol 2013 - San Fernando 6km

Valverde wins Ruta del Sol prologue

Spaniard beats Spilak and Farrar in San Fernando

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) scorched to victory in the prologue of the Ruta del Sol, beating Simon Spilak (Katusha) into second place on the 6km course in San Fernando, while Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) came home in third.

Valverde won the race overall last year shortly after returning from suspension for his links to blood doping doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, and he got his defence off to the perfect start on the straightforward, out-and-back course, finishing two seconds ahead of Spilak and four ahead of Farrar.

"To be honest, I'm the first one who is surprised about this result," said Valverde. "My condition was good, but I made the course 20 seconds faster than last year, and that's a huge improvement. I knew the course and only watched it by car today; I didn't do a bike recce, but I found good legs right from the start.

"This victory is important for my confidence, especially because it's a time trial. That means the work we're doing on the TT bike is paying off already. There's still huge room to improve, but we're on the right track."

The early pace-setter was Maxim Belkov (Katusha) and Jack Bobridge (Blanco) was among the riders unable to better his time of 6:56. Bobridge’s Blanco teammate Robert Gesink also failed to make an impact (he lost 43 seconds), and Belkov’s time stood unchallenged until first Farrar and then Spilak took the start and passed him on the leaderboard.

Of the later starters, Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto Belisol) was a notable performer, clocking a fine time of 6:50, which would be enough for 4th place come the end of the stage.

Ultimately, however, it was Valverde, the last man off, who had the final say. The Spaniard gauged his effort well and stopped the clock in 6:46, enough to put him two seconds clear of Spilak and take the first red jersey of the race.

The Ruta del Sol continues on Monday with a 164km stage from San Fernando to Ubrique.



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