Alejandro Valverde wins Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana in Mallorca
Last Updated: 05/02/13 6:11pm
Alejandro Valverde: Got his season off to a strong start
Alejandro Valverde sprinted to his first victory of the season at the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana in Mallorca.
The Spaniard (Movistar) made up part of an elite four-man breakaway that powered clear in the closing stages.
Team Sky's Sergio Henao followed Valverde home in a close finish, with Robert Gesink (Blanco) third and Rui Costa (Movistar) fourth.
The quartet burst clear on the category-one Coll de Puig Major ascent and built up an unassailable lead of 45 seconds on the downhill run for home.
The third day of the Challenge Mallorca brought climbers to the fore, with an undulating parcours prompting plenty of attacks to liven up the racing and the Coll de Soller also making an appearance.
Heading out of Deia ahead on a 153km route, a 10-man group led by Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) and Bram Tankink (Blanco) went away early, building up a healthy advantage but always being kept at arm's length by, among others, Team Sky.
Yet at the finish there was no stopping Valverde, who opened his 2013 account in style.
The 32-year-old said: "I knew I was strong, but I didn't quite know how my reactions were going to be as I'm taking things more cautiously this season.
"I knew I had ended the 2012 season in really good shape and came here with good motivation, and it is true that once you are up front, you always try to win.
"Taking a victory so early in the season is always better, because it gives confidence to you as well as to the squad."
There were two Britons in the top 10, with Team Sky's Ben Swift leading the peloton over the line 51 seconds down on Valverde, and Ian Bibby (Madison Genesis) claiming a superb 10th.
1 Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, 4:04.17
2 Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky, same time
3 Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco, st
4 Rui Costa (Por) Movistar, st
5 Ben Swift (Gbr) Team Sky, +51secs
6 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida, st
7 Bart de Clercq (Bel) Lotto-Belisol, st
8 Tony Martin (Ger) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, st
9 Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEDGE, st
10 Ian Bibby (Gbr) Madison Genesis, st