No breaks for battered Valverde
The good news for Vuelta favourite Alejandro Valverde is that he does not have any broken bones afte
PICTURE BY LAVUELTA.COM There was some good news at the end of a very unhappy homecoming day for Murcian rider Alejandro Valverde as hospital checks revealed that he had not broken any bones when he crashed heavily after seven kilometres of yesterday’s stage through Murcia province. With today a rest day in Almeria, Valverde will at least have some time to rest and have treatment on the numerous cuts and bruises covering almost every part of his body. Valverde’s crash was initially reported as being due to a touch of wheels but was in fact caused by his chain skipping off a sprocket. Going at high speed towards the back of the bunch chasing breakaway David Zabriskie when it happened, the Spaniard was catapulted over his bars and ended up lying underneath the guardrail at the side of the road. The race doctor Juan Maria Irigoyen was quickly on the scene and helped Valverde, lying second overall just nine seconds behind Floyd Landis, back onto his feet. Members of Valverde’s CV-Kelme team were also on hand, with a couple of them reported to be on the verge of tears after seeing their team leader’s distressed state. The initial prognosis was not good as Valverde was helped out of shredded jersey and away from his shattered bike. There was some delay before he got on a replacement bike, with his team-mates encouraging him to continue with the simple aim of seeing whether he was capable of continuing at all. The peloton, meanwhile, had slowed to await Valverde’s return in a typically gallant show of sportsmanship. Speaking later, Valverde said “I have to thank all the bunch for having supported me and my team. Now I just want to recuperate and see if I improve in the next few days.” Admitting he didn’t know which part of his body was hurting the most, Valverde stated that he hoped he could continue after the rest day. His team-mates gave fuller explanations of what had happened following the crash. “At the start he couldn’t pedal, his hip and knee were hurting him and he told me he was going to stop,” David Latasa told AS. “We convinced him that the stage was going to be fairly steady and reminded him that tomorrow is the rest day and that it might be worth the pain to continue. We encouraged him and the fact that he was riding on a hot day helped as well.” Valverde’s rivals were quick to respond to the incident. “The directors told us that Valverde had fallen and everyone stopped,” said Roberto Heras, who admitted that he would like to win the Vuelta “with all of my rivals in their best condition.” Third overall Paco Mancebo explained how he had dropped back to see Valverde and encourage him. “I tried to tell him a joke to raise his spirits, but he was obviously suffering quite badly,” he said. CV-Kelme team manager Vicente Belda paid his own tribute to the rest of the peloton for their response to his leader’s misfortune. “I want to thank them for their solidarity because when they heard Valverde’s cry of alarm they all stopped and that was a great gesture,” said Belda.