Valverde's tears cloud the Balcony of Alicante

The withdrawal due to the fall of the Murcian overshadows the rest of the stage. Storer finished the break in front of Verona. And Roglic retained the jersey for 8 seconds over Grossschartner.


Alejandro Valverde's tears flooded the seventh stage of La Vuelta. His fall down an embankment in full attack, when he set fire to the race 50 kilometers from the finish, when he had disarmed Primoz Roglic from his teammates, when he put Movistar in a position to burst the general classification, overshadowed everything that happened afterwards. That can be summed up in the victory of the young Australian pearl Michael Storer, who finished off the escape at the Balcón de Alicante, where at times it seemed that Carlos Verona was going to bring the victory to the injured boss. Not even that joy could be given. And in that Roglic saved the red jersey that he had virtually lost during several phases of the race, with eight seconds of advantage over Felix Grossschartner.

The six ports and the almost 4,000 meters of unevenness of the stage presented an ideal profile to ambush Primoz Roglic, especially because if the Slovenian looked in the rear-view mirror, behind he saw three pursuers from the same team, Movistar, in 41 seconds: Enric Mas, Superman López and Alejandro Valverde. Not far behind, another fearsome trident also appeared, that of the Ineos, with Egan Bernal, Adam Yates and Richard Carapaz. Any distant movement could put the red jersey in trouble. The game was served.

To begin with, the telephone team put two cyclists ahead to serve as a shuttle for a subsequent attack, Nelson Oliveira and Carlos Verona, just as Ineos placed Pavel Sivakov. The leader also snuck in Sepp Kuss, just in case. The pieces were distributed in a board of 29 runners that formed the break, in which there were also other interests. Jan Polanc, faithfully escorted by Matteo Trentin at the UAE, became a virtual red jersey. Just like Felix Grossschartner. Romain Bardet, who had lost his options for the general in the fall of Albacete, entered with four teammates from DSM, in search of a stage that his colleague Storer finally took. There were multiple combinations in play.

The announced attack took place in the expected place: in El Collao, the third-to-last port of the day, just under 50 kilometers from the finish line. It was a brave start by Valverde, driven by José Joaquín Rojas, who had a quick response from Carapaz, also wanting to party, and who dismantled the Jumbo organization from behind. It was a difficult scenario to control. The stage was reaching its hot spot, there was ground to turn La Vuelta upside down. It was a check to the king.

And then the feat turned into drama. Valverde lost the line on a descent by avoiding a pothole and plunged down a ravine. Fortunately, at least, he avoided the guardrails, those guillotines that continue to threaten many Spanish roads. The Murcian stunned rejoined, climbed the embankment with the help of Rojas. Doctors checked him: no apparent fractures. At night they were confirmed in a clavicle. But, you know, the pain threshold of a cyclist is different from the rest of humanity, also their willpower. Valverde got back on the bike, advanced a few meters, towed by two companions. Until he accepted that surrender was inevitable. He got down again, rested his head on the chest of his director, Chente García Acosta, and burst into tears. They were the tears of a 41-year-old champion who still maintains, and will never lose, his love for his sport.

His withdrawal spread the stun to the platoon itself. The stage began to lose meaning. And the escape evolved ahead, while the roosters postponed the fight to the Balcón de Alicante. The resolution of the day was a Storer pulse with Sivakov, first, and with Verona, later, which the 24-year-old Australian resolved with strength. Behind, in the fight for the general classification, Grossschartner and Polanc played their tricks in the break, while Roglic dedicated himself to following the hard rhythm of Adam Yates, who did pick up, one more day, Mikel Landa, who gave another half minute . In the group of bosses, Enric Mas and Superman López resisted, who continue to harass the Slovenian. Good news, at least, for Movistar. It was not all tears. But almost

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