Alejandro Valverde says that every victory at this stage in his career is special to him, as he won stage six of the Critérium du Dauphiné, aged 41.
Valverde (Movistar) is now the oldest ever stage winner in the Dauphiné, as he outsprinted Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers) on the tough uphill finish at Le Sappey-en-Chartreuse.
The Spaniard has plans to retire at the end of the season after 20 years in the peloton, but proved he is still capable of winning at the highest level.
Speaking after his Dauphiné stage win, his second victory of 2021, Valverde said: “The truth is that everything I actually manage to do now is special...to be in front with the best, to dispute these triumphs, everything is beautiful when you have done so much in this sport.”
Valverde put in a dominant performance on the tough uphill finish on stage six of the Dauphine, as he saw Geoghegan Hart sprint clear of the leading group 200 metres from the finish.
After bridging across to the Brit, Valverde was able to comfortably sprint past to take his 129th career victory.
But it was thanks to support from his team-mate Miguel Ángel Ló pez that Valverde was in a position to win the day, as the Colombian set a high pace on the front of the bunch inside the final kilometre to deter any attacks.
Valverde said: “Close to the Line, López asked me on the radio ‘Should I push, so no one can attack?’ I told him to go ahead – and I have to thank him especially for that, because he was incredible.
“Ineos put on a big pace before the sprint, but as soon as Geraint Thomas stopped pushing, I knew I couldn’t hesitate: I had to go full-gas to cover that move from Tao.
"I tried to keep him close, and as soon as I saw the finishing banner, I went on full steam.”
Despite the strong performance, Valverde is not within range of the general classification over the two remaining stages.
Instead it will be up to López to try to win overall title for Movistar, as he sits 10th overall, 42 seconds behind the current leader Alexey Lutsenko, his former team-mate from Astana-Premier Tech.
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