SAN FERNANDO, Spain (VN) —Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) won Sunday’s prologue to kick off his title defense in the 59th edition of the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista del Sol.
The defending champion finished two seconds better than Siron Spilak (Katusha) on the 6km course around San Fernando, near Cadiz. American Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp) finished third at 4 seconds back.
“To be honest, I’m the first one who is surprised about this result; my condition was good, but I made the course 20 seconds faster than last year, and that’s a huge improvement,” said Valverde, who said he knew the course and didn’t bother with a recon by bike.
“This victory is important for my confidence, especially because it’s a time trial. That means the work we’re doing on the TT bike is paying off already. There’s still huge room to improve, but we’re on the right track.”
It was Valverde’s second win of the season, following a victory February 5 in the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana, the third event of the Mallorca Challenge.
Valverde said he had fewer kilometers in his legs than in previous seasons, but felt “confident and calm” and under no pressure to score an early result.
“We didn’t know what to do after Mallorca: Algarve, Haut Var, Andalucía — it wasn’t clear, because in this time of the year, it’s all about keeping the focus and searching for races that take a smaller effort, shorter routes, no long trips,” he said.
“My plan wasn’t coming here to win, but we have a great squad and some of my teammates should be up front here too. It will be a really tough race.”
Monday’s stage will cover 164km between San Fernando and Ubrique.