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Valverde weighs up Giro d'Italia GC options after stunning Blockhaus ride

Alejandro Valverde at the Giro d'Italia
Alejandro Valverde at the Giro d'Italia (Image credit: Getty Images)

“It’s difficult, but we’re up there, and we’ll see how we go, day-by-day,” is how Alejandro Valverde summed up in less than 20 words what his current GC options are in the Giro d’Italia.

As difficult as the GC maybe, there’s no doubting that at 42, Valverde is doing far better than teammate Ivan Sosa, 18 years his junior, even thought the recent winner of the Vuelta Asturias is supposedly the Movistar GC leader for the Giro.

However, Sosa struggled on the Blockhaus and is currently 17th at 6:55, while after taking ninth on the monster Abruzze climb on Sunday, less than a minute down on winner Jai Hindley (Bora-hansgrohe), Valverde is currently lying 11th overall at 1:23.

That would be impressive enough for any rider. But for the Giro’s oldest racer and in his final year as a pro and despite his own pre-Giro claim that the GC was not his main option, the Spanish veteran is evidently determined to keep on top of his game for as long as possible, almost despite himself.

Valverde recognises that his performance on the Blockhaus was better than expected, but he says questions about his GC options have to be put on hold until the next weekend when the next round of major climbs kicks back in.

“Maybe I didn’t expect to be up there on a climb so hard and on a day with 5,000 metres of climbing,” Valverde told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 10.

But was he surprised by his Blockhaus performance? “Not exactly,” he answered “Things are always unpredictable at the Giro and we’ll just have to keep going on the day-by-day.

“I’ll keep going for stages, even thought it’s true I’m up there in the overall too. So we’ll see what happens. This week is basically a series of flat or flattish stages, and then at the weekend [in Turin] we’ll see if I’m up for one thing [the GC] or another.”

However, Valverde refused to confirm that he will be looking to have a crack at the GC in a race where he took a podium finish and a stage win six years ago behind Vincenzo Nibali and Esteban Chaves.

“It’s difficult, but we’re up there, and we’ll see how we go, day-by-day,” he insisted.

Valverde certainly had no problems remaining ‘up there’ on stage 10, on the relentless chain of fourth category climbs which decided Tuesday’s stage. And he remains in eleventh place overall. 

The dilemma of stages versus overall, therefore remains on hold for now: but it's a dilemma plenty of riders nearly half his age would be delighted to have.

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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, 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. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.