"I missed out, when I wanted to make my move at 400 metres to go it was too late," Valverde said afterwards. "My congratulations to the winner.
"I'm pleased because I've got good form, which is good when guys like [Bauke] Mollema [Belkin] and Roman Kreuziger [Saxo-Tinkoff], important riders weren't able to handle the pace."
Mollema finished 35th at 2:33, and Kreuziger 47th at 5:27.
"Maybe Nibali wanted to lose the jersey today, but in any case it's Monday's stage that really counts. That's the hardest of the three. But I would have liked a stage win today."
Valverde and Joaquim Rodriguez both finished 19 seconds back in eighth and ninth place respectively.
"It's true that me, Nibali and Rodriguez are watching each other closely," Valverde admitted. "But it's Monday that really matters."
Valverde is currently 7th overall. He still has the chance to take over the lead.