Ruta del Sol: Alejandro Valverde makes it three wins from three with victory on stage two
Last Updated: 22/02/14 4:37pm
Alejandro Valverde extended his overall lead to 20 seconds
Alejandro Valverde took a huge step towards overall victory at the Ruta del Sol by making it three wins from three at this year's race with victory on stage two.
The Movistar rider, who is bidding for a third consecutive overall triumph at the event, followed up his wins in the prologue and first stage by out-sprinting a select group of rivals to the line at the summit finish at Cabra.
Luis Leon Sanchez (Caja Rural-Seuros RGA) and Daniel Navarro (Cofidis) followed one second behind in second and third respectively, with Richie Porte (Team Sky), who is second overall, claiming fifth.
Valverde, 33, now holds a 20-second lead in the general classification and, with just a sprint stage on Saturday and rolling fourth stage on Sunday remaining, it appears only a major turnaround in fortunes can now deny the Spaniard overall victory.
The second stage looked on paper to be the day on which this year's winner would be decided and Team Sky duly took up the pace-setting at the foot of the final climb as they attempted to provide a launchpad for team leader Porte.
Sky set pace
Sir Bradley Wiggins was one of the first members of the squad to do a turn at the front and peeled off with 8km remaining, before the likes of Vasil Kiryienka, Peter Kennaugh and lastly Geraint Thomas thinned the peloton down to just over a dozen riders entering the final kilometre.
However, they were unable to shed Valverde and although Porte and Navarro both mounted tame attacks in the final 500m, it was the defending champion who still had energy in reserve to spring clear and complete a hat-trick of wins.
"Sky went on a very hard pace, but I felt well climbing," Valverde said. "I was feeling better and better - I was very confident I could win the sprint.
"Theoretically, the two stages left are the least dangerous in this year's race, but we can't lose focus - we must keep full attention."
Stage two result
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, 5:02:53
2 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, +1secs
3 Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis, same time
4 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana, st
5 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky, st
6 Thomas Degand (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert, +5
7 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin, st
8 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana, st
9 Marcos Garcia (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, +9
10 Jon Izagirre (Spa) Movistar, st
1 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar, 10:20:12
2 Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky, +20secs
3 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, +22
4 Jon Izagirre (Spa) Movistar, +33
5 Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana, +43
6 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Belkin, +44
7 Thomas Degand (Bel) Wanty-Groupe Gobert, +51
8 Daniel Navarro (Spa) Cofidis, +55
9 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana, +1:02
10 Luis Angel Mate (Spa) Cofidis, +1:24
12 Geraint Thomas (GB) Team Sky, +1:30
59 Sir Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky, +13:14