As he told Cyclingnews yesterday, Alejandro Valverde was ready to put up a fight on La Covatilla. The Spanish Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears leader arrived in the same time as Carlos Sastre, who will be his main rival in the general classification. Valverde couldn't win today, but he was also very satisfied with his stage.
"It was a very difficult day, most of all because of the heat that was terrible," he said. "The stage was very important, most of all to see who is in condition and who is not. My feelings were very good but it is obvious that there is a long way left to Madrid. And many riders left to go for the final victory!
"Of course that to win the stage could have been very nice but today it was most important to gain time over the riders who were dropped and to lose as few seconds as possible with the ones who were in front. Today it was most of all a personal test and also for the whole team, and the balance is a very positive one."
David Arroyo, who finished the 19th in the stage and was part of the main breakaway, said, "We sorted out the job before the start. We had to go with all the breakaways to be ahead later in case our leaders could need our help. I was in front almost to the finale, and then only Paulinho remained with me, I started dreaming that I could win the stage but the riders who were chasing suddenly increased the rhythm and that meant the end of my dreams!"
Team director Eusebio Unzue was happy with his boys. "I believe that in spite of the fact that we did not win the stage, we have to be very happy for how the day went. We showed that our squad is a very solid and united one at the side of our leader. Alejandro was feeling very well in all the climbs while many of the favourites lost time today, even if those seconds or minutes lost are not yet really significant. All we can hope now is to go on the same way and confirm what we realized today in the next mountain stages."