The Dutch rider won the opening time trial in the Netherlands and despite a brief spell out of pink, he reclaimed it on stage 4 before putting further time into the majority of his main rivals with a daring attack on stage 6 to Roccaraso. He now leads Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) by 26 seconds, while Valverde is sixth, 41 seconds in arrears. Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) is ninth at 47 seconds, with Mikel Landa (Team Sky) 15th at 1:08.
“What Dumoulin said about only focusing on the time trials? They were comments designed to throw off and mislead the enemy,” Valverde told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“We are all professional enough to know who he is, his caliber, that he’s feeling good and that, at the moment, he’s a tough rival to take very much into account.”
Despite losing time to Dumoulin on stage 6 Valverde stated that he was happy with the result at Roccaraso, having gained a few seconds on Nibali and Landa. Valverde, a winner of the Vuelta a Espana, and third in last year’s Tour de France is making his debut in the Giro d’Italia.
“In the final my body felt a bit strange,” he said. “On the climb it wasn’t that I was feeling bad, but neither did I feel as good as I’d have liked. The losses to Dumoulin were slim and I’ve put time into Nibali and Landa, so I’m happy.”
“It was a stage of contrasts; it was hot, then cold, it rained then it was colder again. On the descent of Bocca della Selva we rode on the front to avoid any crashes but when you’re riding on the front on terrain like that, on wet asphalt, those behind end up getting dropped and complained. But it wasn’t that we wanted to inflict damage – it was just to keep ourselves safe.”
Valverde is hoping for a quiet stage today, with the sprinters likely to dominate the racing. However he is concerned about Saturday's stage to Arezzo, that includes a section of dirt roads on the Alpe di Poti climb only 20km from the finish.
"I expect it to be a complicated day that could cause some damage. The weather forecasts are predicting rain and that make it even worse and durn the dirt roads to mud," he warned.
"I've seen the stage and I like it a lot. It's one of the most interesting stages of this year's Giro d'Italia."