Movistar Team picked up a trio of titles in Spain over the weekend with Lourdes Oyarbide and Alejandro Valverde winning the elite road race titles and Sheyla Gutiérrez claiming top spot in the time trial.
Sheyla Gutiérrez put on a superb display of time trialling over the undulated 21.6km course in Yecla, Murcia on Friday leading home a clean sweep of the podium for Movistar ahead of team-mates Lourdes Oyarbide and Gloria Rodríguez, with a winning margin of nearly a minute.
Movistar Team headed into Saturday’s women’s elite road race with strength in depth, but it was a phenomenal solo display from Lourdes Oyarbide that brought home the title. Oyarbide jumped clear of the peloton in hot pursuit of a five rider strong break, that she first joined and then attacked with 50km to go. Battling cramp, Lourdes’s long distance move – which echoed her success with a similar tactic at the Vuelta a Burgos earlier in the season – saw her cross the line with a 26 second lead.
It was a surprise because I didn’t really feel that well, yet at the National Championships you often find strange race scenarios. Our plan was sending the most girls to the front early in the race. We were able to get Alba into the first escape, then I jumped from the bunch to bridge across, and our plan afterwards was having Gloria, Eider, Alicia or Lorena, as well as Sheyla, trying to make that effort to approach to the front, attack and get back to us.
In the end, the gap between the lead group and the top guns was so big and the fight was within ourselves. Thinking that the finish was so far away, I waited for the last 2km of the La Santa climb to make my move. I wasn’t able to open that big gap, I just struggled so much, was unable to eat well, my muscles hurt so much – yet I was able, after such an immense effort, to get over the Castillo and celebrate the victory.
Alejandro Valverde celebrated his recent contract extension with a third national road race title on home roads in Murcia. Previously a winner in 2008 and 2015, Valverde had the support of no less than 12 Movistar Team riders who worked hard to control the 194.9km race. When defending champion Gorka Izagirre (Astana Pro Team) was swept up at the foot of the Fuensanta climb, Valverde lit the blue touch paper, chasing down Luis León Sánchez and Jesús Herrada before pipping long-time friend Sánchez in tight sprint finish.
It was such a tough race, with plenty of attacks from the start and a breakaway which wasn’t allowed to stick until well over 90km from the start, at the Cresta del Gallo. With Gorka riding so strong, we were forced to take the lead of the bunch and push really hard with many team-mates to stand a chance of winning the race. The whole team did a massive job, and when they do, you’ve got to do your best to pay them back – this victory goes to all of my team-mates for their huge effort.
I was coming into the end with Luisle, who is a great friend of mine – I’m sorry he wasn’t able to take the title home this time. It’s also sad for me I won’t be able to wear the jersey, yet we couldn’t miss a chance like this to take a prestigious win. I’m happy to win in front of my home crowds and the legs felt really good leading up to the TDF.