Alejandro Valverde may have conceded 19 seconds to Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and 16 seconds to maillot jauneVincenzo Nibali (Astana) on the first summit finish of the Tour de France but the Movistar captain was happy to have limited his losses on the wet stage to Gérardmer La Mauselaine.
"I saved the day pretty well as it was very difficult and dangerous," Valverde said after finishing seventh. "I had a hard time as the rain affects me a lot and Contador and Nibali had better legs. I followed my own pace and will have to wait for better days."
Valverde started the day in ninth place overall but finished the day in fifth, 2:27 minutes down on Nibali. Well paced by his team throughout the wet stage, Valverde was escorted to the base of the final climb by teammates John Gadret and Beñat Intxausti but when Tinkoff-Saxo started to up the pace, he settled into his own rhythm on the 10.8% gradient climb.
"Everything influences the outcome a bit," Valverde said as he looks to finish on the podium in Paris. "It is not the best result for me but I'm happy as 19 seconds isn't a lot. Let's see if better days are coming up and if we can be up there."
There are two more days in the Vosges with stage 10 to La Planche des Belles Filles likely to see more changes in the overall standings and will be an other opportunity for Valverde to move up the standings before the riders enjoy their first rest day of the 2014 Tour.
Valverde was 27th in 2012 when the Tour last visited La Planche des Belles Filles as he went in to finish 20th in Paris — the only time he has finished outside of the top ten in a grand tour that he has finished.