Alejandro Valverde has not forgotten the overall victory in the Vuelta a España. The Spaniard is almost three minutes behind red jersey carrier Primoz Roglic, but firmly believes that he can still make up for the last week.
"I'm going into the last week with an optimistic feeling," said 39-year-old Valverde, who is second in the general classification, on Tuesday during the day of rest on the site of his Movistar team.
"We have to be realistic, because Roglic is also doing very well. But at the same time we have seen him break earlier during the third week in a big round."
Valverde had hoped to regain some time on Roglic on Monday, but saw the lead of the Slovenian in a heavy mountain stage only get bigger. The reigning world champion lost 21 seconds compared to the Jumbo-Visma rider and is now 2.43 minutes behind.
"It wasn't my best day, but when I compare it with the day before, it went a lot better."
Alejandro Valverde has not forgotten the overall victory in the Vuelta. (Photo: Getty Images)
'Third week in a big round can put everyone in trouble'
"Everything is still possible. The leader can have a bad day, but at the same time we can also lose time. A third week in a big round can put everyone in trouble."
Roglic seemed to get into trouble on Monday, but still managed to parry an attack by Miguel Ángel López. Valverde could not accelerate and had to let his competitors go. Nevertheless, the Movistar rider took motivation from that moment.
"When López attacked, Roglic had to leave a gap. Even though he still looks very fresh, we should try to attack him."
The Vuelta continues on Wednesday with the seventeenth stage, which runs over 219 kilometers from Aranda de Duero to Guadalajara. The course is relatively flat for Spanish standards. On Thursday and Saturday, Valverde will have the opportunity to get in trouble in two very difficult mountain rides.
See also: View the classifications of the Vuelta with Kelderman in eighth place