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Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Movistar)
Puncture before final climb adds another two minutes for Spaniard
Movistar's Alejandro Valverde hoped to turn around his 2:40 deficit in the first mountain top finish of the Tour de France, but after being caught up in the crash on stage 6, his luck soured once again with a puncture just before the start of the climb to La Planche des Belles Filles on Saturday.
Now nearly five minutes behind new race leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling), the chances for the overall classification have just about ended for the Spaniard.
"To be honest, it seems like the Tour is not my race at all and, most especially, this Tour is not being the best for me," Valverde said. "Good luck is not at my side, that's for sure. After the two crashes yesterday, I was feeling quite strong today and I had a flat tire in the worst possible moment. just before starting the climb and when the pace was getting to the highest."
Valverde had teammate Vladimir Karpets - one of only five of his teammates left in the Tour - at his side immediately but the pace was so high in the group ahead that the Spaniard could not rejoin.
"I was about to enter the group, but they were riding on full steam and I came with my legs really swollen due to the effort. I went on my own pace through the climb and overtook many people, but it was impossible to get to the front. The team was superb, all of them did a great work and we did all we could do. When things go this way, you can't do anything else. Still, not everything is lost, though it's obvious that the GC will be really difficult with so much time lost, even when I think that we can stay with the other riders apart from those three or four at a higher level".
Movistar's Rui Costa is now the team's highest placed rider in the overall classification, he is 15th at 2:25 from Wiggins.