Valverde and Quintana adamant that Vuelta a Espana podium fight not yet over

After his excellent third place in the time trial at Burgos, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) remains adamant that the fight for the Vuelta a España podium “is not yet over,” even if the overall lead is out of reach.

“My feelings were very good,” Valverde said afterwards. “I went all out and I’m always a fighter, right the way to the end.”

Valverde has moved up from ninth to sixth overall, 3:15 behind overall leader Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin). Asked if the podium was still a possibility, Valverde insisted: “It’s not decided yet.” His team-mate Nairo Quintana, who has jumped from eighth to fifth, at 2:53, is also far better positioned than he was 48 hours before.

Valverde said he was “not surprised” that Dumoulin had raced so strongly. “He was always going to do that,” he said. “But it is not decided yet. And I’m not doing so badly.”

The Spaniard’s upbeat tone contrasted strongly with his more pessimistic outlook during the second rest day, when he was even asked if he had considered abandoning in order to conserve his strength for the World Championships road race in Richmond. In what is proving to be a rollercoaster Vuelta for Valverde, however, it would appear that he has yet more cards left to play.

Quintana was equally belligerent. “I don’t know if I’m at 100 percent, but I feel like I’ve recovered well and my morale is very high after this time trial performance. I rode the first part very well and in the second I improved even more. Am I fighting for the podium? Of course. There’s nothing to lose if we try for it, and I will have to go on pushing for a good result in the race.”

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