Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won the Queen stage of the Volta a la Communitat Valenciana in commanding fashion, with Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) placing 2nd and Luis Leon Sanchez (Pro Team Astana) 3rd.
The 4th stage of the Vuelta Valencia would be the Queen stage of the race as no less than 7 categorised climbs littered the 181km route. For Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, it was all about looking after Merhawi Kudus and delivering him to the final cat 1 climb, in as best a shape as possible.
A fast start with numerous attacks in the first hour made an already difficult day that much more arduous, and with the powerhouse Vasil Kiryenka (Team Sky) in the 6 rider break of the day, the peloton never let up. The stage deciding moment did eventually come down to the final climb with the early break caught. Kudus reached the foot of the climb which was at 3km to go in a great spot, 5th wheel in fact, but the hard work to get into that position meant our young Eritrean was already in the red zone as the climb began.
With an average gradient of 12% on the climb, there was no hiding and soon the strongest riders went clear. A group of 12 distanced the rest with Kudus just off the back of this group. Yates made a decisive move with a kilometer to go but Valverde, a specialist at these steep finishes, timed his effort to perfection catching the Brit with 150m to go and powering away to the stage win. Kudus fought bravely for as best a result as possible which ultimately, would be 15th on the day.
Kudus lost his lead in the overall young rider classification and slotted in to 15th place on GC. With just tomorrow’s final flat stage remaining, we don’t expect any changes to the overall as the race concludes in Valencia tomorrow.
Bingen Fernandez – Sport Director
Today was always going to be the deciding stage for the GC. Our plan was to look after Merhawi and then it was up to his legs on the final climb. The climb was really difficult and steep and also the run in to the climb was hard because Astana were setting a high pace. Unfortunately Merhawi couldn’t match the favourites on the last climb. It is early in the season still so the guys are yet to come into their top shape, we can build from here to our next objectives.