Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana both think that the other should be the leader of Movistar in the Vuelta a España. The Spaniard won the seventh stage on Friday, partly thanks to good work from the Colombian.
"Nairo said I am the leader, but he is in good shape and has the qualities to win," says Valverde on his team's site. After the first week in the Vuelta, Valverde is third in the rankings at 16 seconds from leader Miguel Ángel Lopez (Astana) and 10 seconds from number two Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma).
Quintana is 11 seconds behind Valverde in fourth place. López and Roglic were the only riders on Friday who could follow the Movistar duo on the steep final climb to Alto Mas de la Costa.
"Alejandro is in better shape than me in the rankings. I maintain that he is our leader", Quintana says in turn. "We just watch it every day. The Vuelta lasts a long time, and because we both drove the Tour de France, the tired already start to play a role."
See also: View the rankings of the Vuelta with Kelderman in ninth place
Valverde: 'Roglic is the best in theory'
Quintana (29) already won the second stage in this Vuelta. The 39-year-old world champion Valverde booked his thirteenth daily win in the Tour of Spain in his impressive career on Friday.
Both showed that they could win the Vuelta in the past. Quintana did that in 2016, Valverde already ten years ago.
"It would be great to win again after ten years, but we have to be realistic," said Valverde. "We now have two stage wins with the team and are in good shape in the rankings. You can't ask for much more."
"We know that Roglic is a good time trial driver. In theory, he has the best chance of winning, but anything can happen."
See also: Valverde trumps Roglic on very tough final climb in seventh stage Vuelta
Quintana presumably working on last months at Movistar
Valverde signed a new two-year contract with Movistar this summer, Quintana is likely to leave the Spanish team for the French Arkea-Samsic team next winter.
The eighth stage in the Vuelta is on Saturday. The peloton awaits a ride over 166 kilometers from Valls to Igualada. The stage is relatively flat with the exception of a second category climb, 27 kilometers from the finish.