Joaquim Rodriguez said that he had done all he could after battling to try and take a podium spot on the Angliru on Saturday and ending up with a likely fourth in this year's Vuelta a Espana.
The Katusha rider has consistently said throughout the Vuelta that he was not firing on all cylinders after he did not recover as well from the Tour de France as he would have liked.
But when he claimed an impressive stage win at the Alto de Naranco, Rodriguez looked to be on better form than he had expected, and he said he wasn't ruling anything out on the Angliru on Saturday.
However, despite Dani Moreno (Katusha) doing a sterling job of forcing the pace on the Angliru, with accelerations that even managed to sink Horner's climbing lieutenant in the Vuelta, Robert Kiserlovski (RadioShack Leopard), it was not to be. Rodriguez lost contact when Valverde did, with around seven kilometres to go, and whilst Valverde ended the climb strongly and took third, Rodriguez finished eighth at 1:45.
"I did everything I could. The team was perfect, and I tried to attack, but I've ended up with the result I got," Rodriguez, who was second in the 2012 Giro, third in the 2012 Vuelta and third in the 2013 Tour, said afterwards.
"I buried myself on the climb, but the podium, which was what I wanted, just couldn't happen."
"We all knew that Horner was really strong, it was only in Hazallanas that we were taken a little bit by surprise. He rode a very calculating race all the way up the Angliru, and he's been the strongest throughout the whole race on the climbs."
Rodriguez concluded by thanking his team, one of the strongest in the Vuelta. "They've given me all the support I needed in the race."
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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