The 34-year-old Spaniard tried his best, but his best was not good enough. He finished fourth, 1:25 behind third-placed Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) and 9:40 down on winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana). It was still his best result in a Tour de France, having previously finished fifth, ninth, twentieth and eighth but those statistics offered little consolation.
"That'a sport: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. We fought for the podium until the very last day, which means that we rode super well and did everything we could," Valverde said on the team’s website.
"It happens many times that everything you work and sacrifice for doesn't come to fruition. This result is not a failure for me, not at all: being fourth in the Tour, my best result... is not easy at all. It might seem like that but there's a load of work behind it."
Nibali was still in second place overall after the second mountain stage in the Pyrenees but suffered on the difficult final mountain stage to Hautacam. A poor time trial on the penultimate stage sealed his fate.
Team manager Eusebio Unzue couldn’t hide his disappointment, saying “we really thought” Valverde would be able to move back up onto the podium in the time trial.
"Unfortunately, he didn't have the day he needed to in order to recover that podium, and we came one step short for the goal we've come searching for in this Tour. He was fourth after doing everything he could: the team worked their hearts out for it."
"Alejandro was really great all race, focused, attentive - but on the day of the 'exam', he just didn't perform as brilliantly as we all, included him, would have desired."
Unzue tried to look on the bright side, saying, "a fourth place is not a bad result, it's a big one in a race like the Tour de France. We're just sad because it was a great chance, Alejandro had felt well throughout the Tour, but bad luck in his TDF career had become good this time."