By Bjorn Haake in Comillas
Despite having realistically lost his chance at the overall victory in the Vuelta a España on stage 12, Spaniard Alejandro Valverde still has the podium in his sights, he said Friday on the race's second rest day in Comillas. The Caisse d'Epargne team leader lost over three minutes on Thursday's rainy stage, falling behind on the last descent of the day. When he lost contact with 50km to go, Astana and Euskaltel used the opportunity to ride Valverde out of the general classification, despite his entire team dropping back to help pull him back into the race.
A relaxed looking Valverde explained what happened. "I just got really cold on that descent. With one if my teammates I got some extra clothing." He had lost the contact with the group a bit and Astana and Euskaltel immediately went to work. Valverde explained that there was little he could do. "I like the sun better, I just can't deal with the cold weather. That's just me and I can't change that."
Valverde realised the GC battle is over for him, but he was still looking forward to the Angliru. "I will fight [for a stage win]. The race has changed now, I am no longer a contender for the overall."
Valverde confirmed to Cyclingnews his aversion against rainy weather. "I was on the trainer for 45 minutes today. I didn't go out riding on the road. It is too wet out there," he added.
The Spaniard also thought he was still close enough to get onto the podium in Madrid. "We are talking minutes here. I am not very close, but not that far, either. I have recuperated well. Really, I am not feeling bad." The Caisse d'Epargne captain emphasised that he lost through a mistake, when he left too much of a gap, and he was paying for that. "I lost the race in the descent, not in the uphill."
Valverde may have lost the Vuelta but it won't bring sleepless nights to him. "I slept well last night. There is nothing I can do about it now." He was in fact a bit surprised about his high overall positioning until now. "So far the race actually had been going better than I thought."
Despite seemingly out of the overall picture, Valverde did not change his focus. "I am not thinking about the Worlds yet. We are at the Vuelta. Tomorrow will be a very hard stage, but if I feel good I will try something."