Alejandro Valverde showed again in February 2016, fourteen seasons after his pro debut, that his regularity and courage are ones from the past, something difficult to match. Despite his early season goals being still more than two months away, the Movistar Team leader, eighth overall after Saturday’s time trial in the Vuelta a Andalucía, put the GC upside down in the Ruta del Sol. An attack full of grittiness and constance into the climb of Peñas Blancas, end of the 171km stage five, awarded him the day’s honours and a record-setting fourth GC success.

The squad directed by José Luis Arrieta and José Luis Laguía went on the attack from the very start. Juanjo Lobato, Rory Sutherland and Rubén Fernández tried his way into several attacks through the first two hours of racing, the Murcian ultimately able to go away with Geschke (TGA) and Wellens (LTS) into the first climb of Peñas Blancas. The pace by BMC behind never let Rubén’s attempt gain more than 1’30”, the Spaniard eventually caught as a crash with no consequences into the ascent left Wellens alone and ahead till the last 15km.

A move from Dani Moreno with eight kilometers to go derailed the Sky train at the front and prepared Bala’s decisive acceleration -well protected by Imanol Erviti and Javi Moreno as well as all his team-mates-. With 7km left, Valverde soon started opening a huge gap that grew up until 50 seconds. Despite attempts from former leader Van Garderen and a jump from Mollema (TFS) into the final kilometer, Valverde crossed the line with 48” over the red jersey to claim his 91st and 92nd victories as pro, third and fourth for a Movistar Team which found again response to their efforts with a win by one of its two main references.