Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) capped off his triumphant return from serious injury by sealing overall victory of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana on Sunday’s final stage.
The veteran Spaniard finished safely in the bunch on a rain soaked day to Valencia as Belgian Jürgen Roelandts sprinted to stage honours.
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Valverde, 37, suffered a serious knee injury after crashing in the first stage of the 2017 Tour de France, but has returned to competition with an emphatic overall victory in Valencia that saw him claim two stage wins along the way.
Astana’s Luis Leon Sanchez and Jakob Fuglsang take second and third spots overall respectively after they both safely finished in the main bunch with Valverde.
The fifth and final stage saw the peloton brave some more adverse weather in the east of Spain, with a hardy six men taking up the opportunity to get in the day’s main break on the 135.2km course.
Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky), Stefan Küng (BMC), Domen Novak (Bahrain-Merida), Rein Taaramae (Direct Energie), Thomas Sprengers (Sport Vlaanderen) and Jan Tratnik (CCC) were the riders to get up the road early, holding a maximum 1-15 advantage.
The gap sustained around the minute mark for much of the afternoon, but quickly slipped to just under 30 seconds with around 35km remaining and the break was whittled down, with David de la Cruz jumping from the peloton to join the break on the final category three climb.
With 109km of the day gone, Küng then found himself out front alone in an effort for a famous solo stage victory. he extended the gap to 24 seconds briefly before seeing it quickly close on him, and the peloton eventually reabsorbed the Swiss within the final 10km.
The technical run-in to Valencia and the wet roads meant the race might not favour a traditional lead-out for the sprinters, and so it proved with Oliver Naesen pushing to the front and leading the group through final bends towards the finish.
The Belgian champion overcooked the final corner however, and slid out, with Jürgen Roelandts making an early move away from stage one winner Danny Van Poppel (LottoNL-Jumbo) along the final straight.
The BMC man began to fade in the final 50 metres and Dutchman Van Poppel almost had him on the line, but Roelandts was able to hold onto celebrate his first victory since switching from Lotto-Soudal to the American team this year.
Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2018, stage five: Paterna – Valencia (135.2km)
1 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) BMC Racing Team, in 2-58-26
2 Danny van Poppel (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo, st
3 Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale, at 1 second
4 Nelson Andres Soto Martinez (Col) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA
5 Baptiste Planckaert (Bel) Katusha-Alpecin
6 Christophe Noppe (Bel) Sport Vlaanderen-Baloise
7 Marco Canola (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
8 Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
9 Jonas Koch (Ger) CCC Sprandi Polkowice
10 Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits, all same time
Final overall classification
1 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, in 16-14-53
2 Luis León Sanchez (Esp) Astana Pro Team, at 14s
3 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team, at 26
4 Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 37s
5 Jesus Herrada (Esp) Cofidis, Solutions Credits, at 48s
6 Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 49s
7 Pello Bilbao (Esp) Astana Pro Team, at 54s
8 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Mitchelton-Scott, at 57s
9 Kilian Frankiny (Swi) BMC Racing Team, at 1-03
10 Amaro Antunes (Por) CCC Sprandi Polkowice, at 1-09