Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Valverde Feels Full Wrath of Omega Pharma-Quickstep

On a day that saw Alejandro Valverde tell the world that he thought he could win this years Tour de France despite the course favouring the time trialists, it would have been a good idea to accompany his statement with actions in the form of a strong performance in the Volta a Catalunya. Levi Leipheimer had other ideas and revenge on his mind...

For those who watched Paris-Nice the above photograph will need no explanation. It shows Levi Leipheimers Omega Pharma-Quickstep team-mates trying to drag him back to the peloton after crashing on stage 7 of the French stage race. Although on the day his team were happy to wait for him, close rival and fellow general classification contender Valverde and his Movistar team were not so willing to stick around and going against the 'unwritten' rule not to attack when a fellow GC contender takes an unfortunate bump or has a mechanical problem, put their feet on the gas at the front of the bunch and rode clean away. Leipheimer would eventually finish 9 minutes down on the leading group, after another unfortunate crash on a fast descent, he never rejoined the bunch and thus his race was finished. Leipheimer went from an almost deffinate podium finish to nothing all in a moments racing. So when Valverde had a mechanical failure 55km from the finish on todays stage of the Volta a Catalunya an opportunity presented itself to Leipheimer and his men.

Immediately Omega Pharma-Quickstep went on the attack and set an excruciating pace at the front taking with them only a select bunch of specialist climbers on the final ascent leaving Valverde and his chasing group to cross the finish line over two minutes down on stage winner Albasini, leaving him trailing 4 minutes down on the leaders in the general classification. Revenge for Leipheimer was surely sweet today...

Of course, it always looks innocuous enough, there will be no admission of revenge, timed attacks and the like, Valverde claimed the Paris-Nice attack started before Leipheimer crashed, similarly today's incident will be blamed on cross-winds and I will admit that this is only speculation but it makes for a good story, but remember this: A cyclist never forgets.

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