Ruta del Sol: Sir Bradley Wiggins finishes sixth as Alejandro Valverde wins prologue
Last Updated: 19/02/14 5:46pm
Sir Bradley Wiggins finished 14 seconds down on winner Alejandro Valverde
Sir Bradley Wiggins had to settle for sixth place in the prologue of the Ruta del Sol in Spain as defending champion Alejandro Valverde claimed victory to take an early race lead.
Wiggins (Team Sky) negotiated a flat, 7.3km course in Almeria in 8min 36sec, 14 seconds adrift of Valverde (Movistar) but in the same time as compatriot and team-mate Geraint Thomas, who pipped him to fifth.
The Netherlands' Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) had looked set to take the win after posting an imposing time of 8min 29sec, but Valverde, who was the last man start, eclipsed him by seven seconds with an impressive display.
It is the perfect start to the race for the Spaniard, who is looking to win the five-day event for the third consecutive year.
Valverde said afterwards: "I'm the first one who is surprised about this result, not only because of the win, but also due to the time gaps against such rivals, in such a short time trial. I knew I was doing well with my form, but I didn't know how good."
Valverde's team-mate Jon Izagirre finished third, nine seconds back, to put two Movistar riders in the top three of the general classification going into Thursday's first road stage.
Prologue result and general classification
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, 8:22
2 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Giant-Shimano, +7secs
3 Jon Izagirre (Spa) Movistar, +9
4 Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team Sky, +13
5 Geraint Thomas (GB) team Sky, +14
6 Sir Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky, same time
7 Javier Moreno (Spa) Movistar, +15
8 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky, st
9 Simon Geschke (Ger) Giant-Shimano, +16
10 Haimar Zubeldia (Spa) Trek Factory Racing, +17