(Andalo, 24 May 2016 – Press Giro d’Italia) Alejandro Valverde took his first ever stage win at the Giro d’Italia in style, outsprinting Steven Kruijswijk and Ilnur Zakarin in a demanding stage finish at Andalo. In an extremely hard-fought stage averaging 44.270km/h, despite lumpy terrain, the Dutchman took his third straight second place but, more importantly, increased his overall lead over arch-rivals Esteban Chaves, who fought hard to regain position, and Vincenzo Nibali, who lost contact with the front of the race after starting the hostilites early on.
Alejandro Valverde declared in the press conference: “I came to the Giro with two goals: to win a stage and to finish on the podium. Half of the mission is now accomplished and I’ve moved into the top three for now, although I’m aware that Nibali who is a born attacker will try and knock me off the podium. From what we’ve seen today, Kruijswijk is the strongest and I believe he’ll be the champion at the end of the race. However, my first victory at the Giro is a great emotion. I am really enjoying this race!”.
Maglia Rosa Steven Kruijswijk said in the press conference: “It may have looked like I was in control, but there were a lot of attacks in the first part of the race. I reacted rapidly to the attacks from Nibali, Valverde, etc. I was always in a good position. With ten riders at the front, it was an ideal situation for me. It was a short stage and maybe not the race of my life, although, to keep my leadership this week, I think I’ll have to ride all the stages as if they were the race of my life!”.
Maglia Bianca Bob Jungels: “I saw at last year’s Tour de France that I can be really good in the last week of a Grand Tour. Yesterday I felt really good… on the rollers! Therefore, I wanted to give it a try today as the day after a rest day is harder for the older guys (laugh). There were a lot of attacks, so we went full gas all day long. I kept my rhythm. This is my weakness and my strength: I’m able to maintain a high rhythm but I struggle when it’s too steep with changes of rhythm. If I finish seventh of the Giro, I’ll say this is crazy but I prefer to keep my feet on the ground. There are two stages at a really high altitude to come and I hope the weather will be OK so it’ll help me defend my position overall and the Maglia Bianca”.