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Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana. Stage 2. Showtime for Astana: Sanchez 2nd, Fuglsang 3rd after brave race

Astana leaders, Luis Leon Sanchez and Jakob Fuglsang did a spectacular race today at the second stage of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (Bétera – Albuixech, 154 km). With a pretty hilly route and a hard climb with 30 km to go, the stage provided a great opportunity for the riders to attack and to show their strengths in this early part of the season.

With 2 km to the top of the El Garbí it was Jakob Fuglsang, who launched an attack. He was followed by the Spaniard Alejandro Valverde. Together, they passed the top of the climb with an advantage of 15 seconds. A bit later Luis Leon Sanchez attacked from the chasing group to bridge to the leaders.

- Actually, I was first to attack, and Valverde came across. He came strong and I’ve realized it could be a good moment to go with him. It was our plan to try something in the final of today’s stage, so it was a right moment for that. After, Luis Leon joined us and, I think, it was the main reason, why we could stay in front until the finish. He was super strong today. Also, they both, Luis Leon and Alejandro knew the distance and it was an advantage too, - said Jakob Fuglsang.

The trio worked hard the last 30 km to the finish, holding a good advantage of 25-30 seconds to the chasing group of 23 riders. Finally, three leaders came together to the finish to play the stage in a sprint. Alejandro Valverde became the stage winner with Luis Leon Sanchez second and Jakob Fuglsang third.

- We gave everything we had to the line and we managed to get some important seconds for the general classification. We did not win the sprint, but anyway it was not easy having a rider like Valverde on the wheel. I tried to pull in front of our group inside the last kilometer to give a chance to Luis Leon to pass Valverde in sprint. Ok, it did not work, but we can be happy. In the end it was a good day for the team and for our moral, - resumed Jakob Fuglsang after the finish.

- The main plan was to gain as many seconds as possible. First of all, we thought about the general classification and the time was a key for us, because tomorrow we will have a very difficult team time trial. Of course, would be really nice to win this stage, but Alejandro Valverde is a very fast rider and it is hard to win a sprint to him. Anyway, it was a good today. Now, we are looking forward to the stage tomorrow, - said Luis Leon Sanchez.

Also, another Astana rider Pello Bilbao, who was in the chasing group, did a very nice race, finishing at 7th place, 19 seconds behind the winner.

After today’s stage Valverde moved into the lead of the general classification. Sanchez is second, 4 seconds behind, Fuglsang is third, 6 seconds to the leader. Pello Bilbao is 6th in overall (+0.29).

Astana Pro Team became the leader of the team’s classification.

Stage 3 of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana will be held tomorrow: it will be a very technical team time trial of 30,3 km from Poble Nou de Benitatxell to Calpe.

Photo credit: ©Bettiniphoto

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