Valverde: It was impossible to get on Moreno's wheel

Movistar team leader Alejandro Valverde moved up to fourth overall at the Vuelta a España with his second place on stage nine behind winner Daniel Moreno (Katusha) on Sunday.

Moreno finished four seconds clear of Valverde, with the Movistar rider unable to shake off Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha). The result moves Valverde up from seventh overall where he started the day. Moreno holds a 22 second advantage over the 33-year-old, but Valverde believes the battle for the podium is truly coming into focus.

"It seems like it will come down to the two of them [Moreno and Rodriguez] and myself in these uphill sprints, but there's still a long way to go in the race," he explained. "Even though Dani is also gaining time, we get some seconds day after day and we're happy with that. The real mountains will start tomorrow - it will be quite a harder stage than the previous ones and we'll see how we really feel."

Sunday's stage was the second time this Grand Tour that Valverde has finished as runner-up, with Chris Horner prevailing on Stage 3 to Mirador de Lobeira. Valverde said he believed stage nine was all about having the right timing.

"The team worked hard into the penultimate climb to keep all the attacks close, and Katusha also put some riders at the front to complete the chase," he said. "Dani went really strong, I hesitated for a bit, and when I wanted to react, it was impossible to get up to his wheel. Dani is, together with Purito, the best rider in such finishes, an amazing rider - hats off to him, they proved to be in really great condition."

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