Valverde’s teammate, Nairo Quintana, has been notable in his quietness through the first 16 stages of the race. A short attack on Ventoux was soon snubbed out by Froome and the Colombian was then dropped by the Team Sky man.
Four mountain stages sit between Froome and his third Tour title, but Valverde says Movistar are in a strong position with two riders in the top five.
“When it comes to our strengths, we have clear numerical superiority with me,” Valverde told Spanish newspaper AS.
“We must take advantage of my role as Nairo’s back up in the four stages remaining. I will sacrifice myself for him to reach his long-awaited yellow jersey. My position in the team has never changed, even when I’ve had good legs.”
What’s ahead on stages 17-21 of the Tour de France
Wednesday’s summit finish to Finhaut Emosson offers the first opportunities for attacks, but the brutal final climb could deter any attacks by Froome’s rivals, especially with a mountain time trial coming on Thursday.
Quintana left his attack to the penultimate stage in 2015, coming up over a minute short of the three minutes he needed to make up on Froome. Will he leave it that late again with a final attack into Morzine?