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Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) puts in an effort
Spaniard waited too long on Alto de Peñas Blancas
It's probably one of the worst kept secrets of this year's Vuelta a España that Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is itching to take a stage win. But after Valverde missed out on the Alto do Monte da Groba on stage two, the 2012 runner-up on GC and 2009 outright winner of the Vuelta once again miscalculated on the next stage that suited him, too - at the Alto de Peñas Blancas - with Leopold Konig (NetApp-Endura) winning instead.
"I missed out, when I wanted to make my move at 400 metres to go it was too late," Valverde said afterwards. "My congratulations to the winner.
"I'm pleased because I've got good form, which is good when guys like [Bauke] Mollema [Belkin] and Roman Kreuziger [Saxo-Tinkoff], important riders" - who like Valverde rode the Tour full-on - "weren't able to handle the pace." (Mollema finished 35th at 2:33, Kreuziger 47th at 5:27).
"Maybe Nibali wanted to lose the jersey today, but in any case it's Monday's stage that really counts. That's the hardest of the three. But I would have liked a stage win today."
Valverde and Rodriguez finished in exactly the same time on the stage, 19 seconds back in eighth and ninth place respectively, and appear more concerned with marking each other than the rest of the field.
"It's true that me, Nibali and Rodriguez are watching each other closely," Valverde admitted. "But it's Monday that really matters."
Valverde is still very much in the Vuelta general classification picture as well as he holds 7th overall at 31 seconds after today's eighth stage.