Valverde wins Saitama Criterium

Alejandro Valverde wins the Saitama Criterium

It won’t be added to his official palmares or UCI results but Alejandro Valverde ( Movistar ) celebrated his first win in the world champion’s rainbow jersey at the Saitama Tour de France criterium in Japan on Sunday, beating Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas ( Team Sky ) in a sprint finish. The two headline riders in the exhibition criterium got away in the final laps of the 3.1km Saitama circuit. They were joined by home rider Yukiya Arashiro (Bahrain-Merida) but he faded in the final kilometre, leaving Valverde to take on Thomas after the final corner. Despite racing in leg warmers, Valverde opened a gap on the Welshman in the kick for the line and won by several lengths and celebrated with his arms in the air. “It’s great to win here. This is my first victory in the rainbow jersey, so I’m very happy,” Valverde told the ...

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