Veteran Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde vowed Monday not to give up hope of winning the Tour de France despite Vincenzo Nibali’s commanding lead. Italian Nibali’s dominance, particularly in uphill finishes, has left Valverde second overall at a distant 4min 37sec but locked in a five-way battle for a podium place. Yet Movistar’s Valverde, 34, denied he is focused purely on maintaining second place.
“Until now he’s shown he’s the best rider in the Tour,” said Valverde. ‘Now, though, we’re going into the Pyrenees and the third week of the Tour so tiredness can be a factor. He’s a human being and anybody can get tired and have problems. It’s always possible to have a bad day and if he does, we’ll try to capitalize. But he’s shown he’s very strong and better than the other riders, although we won’t give up and we’ll try to make the most of it if such a situation arises.”
Movistar team manager Eusebio Unzue insisted the team would not lie down and accept defeat to Nibali: “Our objective from the beginning was a place on the podium in Paris,” he said. “It will be very difficult to beat Nibali because he’s shown he’s superior to the others. But in the five riders behind there is a real desire to progress and they’re going to go on the attack and do something to gain places. We’ve seen that Nibali has been very strong so far but now there are three Pyrenean stages and we’ll make it tougher so it’s not so easy for him. These five riders will make things happen. Ag2r like Movistar are very strong and we can go on the attack. We have to take chances and I think these three Pyrenean stages will really be interesting for the Tour,” said Unzue.