Giro d'Italia: Valverde blames altitude problems after losing three minutes

Movistar's Alejandro Valverde and Andrey Amador refused to speak to the media after losing time during the testing Dolomite stage 14 to Corvara at the Giro d'Italia. They later tried to put a positive spin on their day despite losing three minutes to stage winner Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEdge) and new race leader Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo).

Movistar's chance of overall victory in the Giro d'Italia were left scattered on the slopes of the Passo Valparola when first Amador and then Valverde were unable to hold the pace. When Nibali exploded the front group, Valverde failed to move and then had nobody to help him chase as the rest of the overall contenders rode away from him. Valverde is fourth overall but a significant 3:06 down on Kruijswijk and 2:25 down on Nibali.

"It was a hard day, it was a shock," Spanish radio station Onda Cero reported Valverde as saying from his hotel.

"Both Andrey and I did the best we could and so we have to be happy. We're no less motivated than before. We didn't have a good or bad day, we were just average. There's still a lot of racing to come and chances to shake things up, even if it's going to be complicated. We're three minutes back now and so we can only give it everything."

Valverde admitted that he suffered because of the altitude. He cracked as the climb headed up to 2000m for a sixth time during the stage.

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Giro d’Italia stage 15 - Finish line quotes

"What has affected me most has been the altitude, we have always been around 2000 metres and I think that is what has hurt me and weakened me. That's when I was in trouble. I had no strength to respond but then later I picked up my pace. We have recovered a bit and we were even about to catch Uran and closed the gap so what to Zakarin and Majka."

Valverde took heart from the fact that even Nibali was unable to stay Chaves and Kruijswijk, and had to fight to limit his losses.

"Nibali was the one that caused everything but Chaves and Kruijswijk were better than him today. Much remains of the Giro and will have to try to do something later in the race. We'll see what happens."

He is hoping he can bounce back in Sunday's 10.8km time trial from Castelrotto Alpe di Siusi.

"It's a pretty demanding time trial and I think I'll do well," he said.

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