Tour de France (prologue)
The nine Movistar Team save with no incidents the TT prologue of the Tour de France -won by Cancellara (RNT), first yellow jersey- as Sunday’s tough finish in Seraing offers Blues their first real chance
Fabian Cancellara (RNT) took the first yellow jersey of the 99th Tour de France on Saturday after a 6.4-kilometer prologue that meant the debut for the nine Movistar Team riders in Eusebio Unzué’s 30th team appearance in the French grandtour. Rubén Plaza, 21 seconds behind the Swiss rider in 26th place, was the best rider from the telephone squad in a day where his team leader Alejandro Valverde kept the gaps close with the climbers and GC riders before a day rather more favourable for the Spanish team’s chances. The first road stage on Sunday will feature 198 kilometers from Liège to Seraing, with four Cat. 4 climbs and a complicated, final 2.5k, including slopes up to 14% gradient.
Alejandro Valverde: “It was the first day and the important thing was not having any complications. We didn’t do well, but we didn’t do bad either. It’s obvious that some gaps were opened, most notably with the specialists. We weren’t far from those riders our fight will be with. The Tour is starting now and the first tough finish comes tomorrow. We did a recon yesterday and it will be hard. We mustn’t become too obsessed about it, but we have to keep the front because the GC riders have to be attentive as time gaps can form. The Tour won’t be won there, but it’ll be a difficult finish”.
Eusebio Unzué: “We should not be giving more importance to today’s result than what it has. Five or ten seconds above or behind, it’s not going to change anything. Alejandro was there, losing thime with the specialists like Wiggins, Menchov or Evans, but above or really close to the other favourites for the GC. We’ll have to keep nerves out of our way on stage one. The finish will be hard and everyone will surely try to get to the front. With 2.5k remaining there’s a 500m hard slope that will split the bunch and leave a small group. The favourites must be there, and even though the differences won’t be big, any time loss will be harsh for anyone and we must avoid it.”