Valverde GC Podium & Groenewegen victory

World Champion Alejandro Valverde – racing in his Infinito R1 Iride shoes and Antares 00 Iride saddle – was all smiles on the second step of the final GC podium at Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. It’s a race the Spaniard has previously won three times – more than any other rider – and as recently as last year.

It was an all-Spanish GC podium at Valencia on Sunday 10 February, with El Bala just 7 seconds off the lead, arriving home safely on the fifth and final stage despite a big crash in the main peloton on the short, fast stage.

Out front though, it was the flying Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen (Arione 00 saddle), showing strong early-season form for Team Jumbo-Visma. Team Cofidis sprinter Nacer Bouhanni had looked good at the start of the sprint but Groenewegen used his wheel to jump Alexander Kristoff and Matteo Trentin in a tight sprint, and send a clear message to his fast-wheel competitors.

As the teams use their season opening races to test and develop form, Valenciana saw podiums from Team Jumbo-Visma’s Tony Martin on the opening ITT, and both Bouhanni and Team Sky’s Ben Swift on stage 2 before Valverde took 2nd on stage 4 as part of his convincing wind-up towards the Classics.

Meanwhile, in southern France it’s chapeau to Team CofidisChristophe Laporte – he won the final ITT stage of the Etoile de Besseges to confirm the GC win, along with the Points competition victory. In the fourth and final stage, Laporte extended his overall lead with a strong time trial performance, despite the difficult conditions caused by intermittent rain in Alès.