Valverde had been just one second behind race leader Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) going into the fifth and final stage of 121.8 km around Sion.
But Rogers couldn’t match the Caisse d’Epargne rider’s pace, and Valverde went to the line with Igor Anton (Euskaltel-Euskadi), stage-4 winner Simon Spilak (Lampre) and Denis Menchov (Rabobank), beating them all in the final sprint.
Rogers crossed in 10th position, 23 seconds down, and surrendered the leader’s yellow jersey. He slipped off the podium entirely, into fourth position, behind Valverde, Spilak and Menchov.
“It was a difficult day, with the weather, but this year I adapt better to the cold and rain,” said Valverde. “The bonuses were very important, but I did not want to risk everything on the sprints and that’s why I attacked in the final climb.”
Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Transitions) was the top American finisher on the day, crossing 18th at 1:39. He wound up 14th overall at 2:47.
And there was good news for the BMC Racing team, which secured its first classification jersey of the season Sunday when American Chad Beyer secured the points jersey at Romandie.
Beyer snagged the jersey after being part of a long breakaway in the opening stage and then snuck into the breakaway in stage 2 to bolster his lead.
“I wasn’t planning on coming here and winning a leader’s jersey. I’m always optimistic and when I get an opportunity, I go for it. I had a lot of fun out there,” Beyer said, who was quick to thank teammate Simon Zahner, who helped in the two climbing stages through rain and cool weather. “Without Simon, I don’t think I would have made it.”
BMC’s assistant sport director René Savary said the second-year pro took a big step in defending the jersey all the way to the finish line in the six-day, 651km race.
“It taught Chad how to fight for something,” he said. “And how much power – physically and psychologically – that it takes to defend.”