Alejandro Valverde?s stunning time trial performance at the Dauphiné Libéré has certainly made people sit up and take notice ? not least Cadel Evans, who could have thought of himself as the best time trialist in this year?s Tour de France until he realised he?d lost 20 seconds to the Spaniard.

The 28-year-old Caisse d?Epargne rider is certainly no slouch against the clock but this was the first time he?s ever performed in a major time trial outside his native Spain.

Now Valverde looks set to defend the yellow and blue leader?s jersey until the Dauphiné?s conclusion on Sunday.

And, with only the short 29.5-kilometre time trial at Cholet standing between him and a clear run at the mountains, Valverde suddenly looks a big favourite for the Tour.

Here, we look at Valverde?s time trial results in all flat or rolling races over 20 kilometres or more since the 2004 Vuelta a Espana.

He?s always been good in short time trials but has frequently been found wanting at the longer distances.

Our analysis excludes mountain time trials and prologues but it?s possible to spot a trend. Valverde has done very well on home turf ? winning some important time trials at the Tour of Murcia, where he knows the roads, and finishing consistently well in the Vuelta a Espana.

Until yesterday it?s been a different story elsewhere ? his performances at the Tour de France and previous editions of the Dauphiné Libéré have placed him squarely in the second tier.

But amid all the excited murmuring about yesterday?s result and how it spells bad news for Evans, it is important to remember the stage was 10 kilometres shorter than the equivalent stage in last year?s race, where he was ninth, losing 39 seconds to Evans.

VALVERDE AGAINST THE WATCH

How the Spanish rider has fared in time trials longer than 20 kilometres since the 2004 Vuelta a Espana?

2008

DAUPHINE LIBERE
Stage 3: St Paul-en-Jarez
Distance: 31km Valverde?s time: 44-59 Average speed: 41.34kph Position on stage: 1st
Main rivals:
BEAT Leipheimer by 19sec; Evans by 20sec

TOUR OF MURCIA
Stage 4: Alhama ? Aledo
Distance: 23km Valverde?s time: 33-32 Average speed: 41.15kph Position on stage: 1st
Main rivals:
BEAT Contador by 6sec; Menchov by 43sec; Dekker by 47sec

2007

TOUR DE FRANCE
Stage 19: Cognac ? Angoulême
Distance: 56km Valverde?s time: 1-06-21 Average speed: 50.64kph Position on stage: 17th
Main rivals:
LOST TO Leipheimer by 3-37; Evans by 2-26; Contador by 1-19

TOUR DE FRANCE
Stage 13: Albi
Distance: 54km Valverde?s time: 1-12-42 Average speed: 44.56kph Position on stage: 46th
Main rivals:
LOST TO Evans by 4-54

DAUPHINE LIBERE
Stage 3: Anneyron
Distance: 41km Valverde?s time: 53-26 Average speed: 46.03kph Position on stage: 9th
Main rivals:
LOST TO Vinokourov by 1-18; Evans by 39sec; Menchov by 38sec; Leipheimer by 7sec

TOUR OF MURCIA
Stage 3: Alhama – Aledo
Distance: 23km Valverde?s time: 32-57 Average speed: 41.88kph Position on stage: 1st
Main rivals:
BEAT Menchov by 1-23

2006

VUELTA A ESPANA
Stage 20: Rivas Vaciamadrid
Distance: 27.5km Valverde?s time: 33-58 Average speed: 48.57kph Position on stage: 3rd
Main rivals:
LOST TO Vinokourov by 19sec; Sanchez by 13sec
BEAT Karpets by 11sec; Gusev by 30sec

VUELTA A ESPANA
Stage 14: Cuenca
Distance: 33km Valverde?s time: 41-07 Average speed: 48.15kph Position on stage: 4th
Main rivals:
LOST TO Millar by 13sec; Cancellara by 13sec; Vinokourov by 8sec
BEAT Devolder by 13sec; Karpets by 50sec

DAUPHINE LIBERE
Stage 3: Bourg-de-Peage
Distance: 43km Valverde?s time: 54-50 Average speed: 47.19kph Position on stage: 9th
Main rivals:
LOST TO Zabriskie by 2-02; Landis by 1-09; Leipheimer by 46sec

TOUR OF ROMANDIE
Stage 5: Lausanne
Distance: 20km Valverde?s time: 27-21 Average speed: 43.87kph Position on stage: 14th
Main rivals:
LOST TO Evans by 1-02

TOUR OF THE BASQUE COUNTRY
Stage 6: Zalla
Distance: 24km Time: 32-50 Average speed: 43.85kph
Position on stage: 2nd Main rivals:
LOST TO Gomez Marchante by 6sec

2004

VUELTA A ESPANA
Stage 8: Factoria Ford, Almusafes
Distance: 40km Valverde?s time: 48-48 Average speed: 49.18kph Position on stage: 12th
Main rivals:
LOST TO Hamilton by 1-32; Landis by 1-14

DAUPHINE LIBERE 2008: STAGE REPORTS
Stage three: Valverde takes control of Dauphine
Stage two: Hincapie outclasses bunch in Dauphine
Stage one: Valverde takes classy win
Prologue: Leipheimer soars to Dauphine prologue win

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PHOTOS
2008 Dauphine Libere photo gallery. New photos added daily>>