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Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) lost time in Risoul to a mechanical issue
Spanish time trial champion confident for Bergerac blast
The recently crowned Spanish time trial champion dropped from second place to fourth overall on the climb to Huatacam on stage 18 but he is confident of overhauling the French duo Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) and Jean-Christophe Péraud (Ag2r-La Mondiale) in the 54km time trial from Bergerac to Périgueux to claim a place on the podium in Paris.
Valverde avoided a crash in the closing kilometres of stage 19, which was far from an ideal preparation for the race against the clock.
"Everyone could see it on TV and can imagine how it's been out there, there was no real rest," Valverde said. "It was 200km under full rain; even though it's true it wasn't really cold out there, spending so much time on the bike getting drenched in rain, on stressful, dangerous roads - it makes you reach the finish dead tired. Still, we stayed up-front all day and got through the crash well."
While Valverde has studied the parcours of the 54km time trial back in June, he isn't resting on his laurels, explaining that he will examine the course one last time before the stage to ensure his familiarity of the roads.
"I already know the time trial because I trained here in June and we'll check it again to remember all details before the racing. It's a demanding one: 54km, with small slopes - anything could happen. You can't get crazy about GC time gaps on the bike: you just give your 100%, go flat out... just like that."
Along with the national title, Valverde proved his skill against the clock by winning the Vuelta a Andalucía prologue before claiming overall victory in the race for the third consecutive year.
"I'm performing well in time trials this season, I became Spanish champion last month, and I think I can do well. I have good legs and would like to fight for both third and second places. I could well end up with what I have right now but I'm confident: I think I can do well."
With Nairo Quintana's convincing Giro d'Italia victory in May, the 34-year-old Valverde knows that this is the last year that he will lead Movistar's GC challenge at the Tour de France and is confident that he can do enough for a top-three finish.
"It's a very important day for me. I'm looking for the second place as I'm only a few seconds behind Péraud and Pinot, it's going to be a great fight. I think Péraud is a better specialist than Pinot. Well' see."
"With more than 50km, its' a long and demanding time trial. I'm confident and I hope it's going to work out. I already checked it but I'm going back to see it again."