A puncture by Valverde just before the start of the climb to La Planche des Belles Filles adds 2' to his time loss at the GC, ruins most of his chances to get a high result. Pardilla holds to top-10 overall finish in Austria
Another episode of bad luck ruined Alejandro Valverde’s winning chances at the first summit finish of the 2012 Tour de France. The Movistar Team leader, one of the six survivors from the telephone squad in the race after abandons from Imanol Erviti and Iván Gutiérrez were confirmed this morning following Friday’s crashes, had a rear flat tire with just 1k from the start of the final climb to La Planche des Belles Filles (Cat. 1), a tough ascent that witnessed the stage victory by Brit Chris Froome (SKY) in front of Evans (BMC) and team-mate Bradley Wiggins, the new leader of the race.
Quickly assisted by Vladimir Karpets, Valverde tried to progress into a crazy pursuit, well helped by his team-mates. Cobo, into a first term; Plaza -happily recovered after bad prospects from yesterday’s finish-, after him, and Kiryienka, who dropped himself to help Valverde into the final part of the climb, fought for him with no success. The Spaniard eventually lost 2.19 at the finish, losing most chances to take a good GC result, yet saving, along his five team-mates, a critical day due to bruises and pain from yesterday’s incidents. Without any rest in between, the race will tackle a really nervous, mid-mountain stage tomorrow, the eighth in the Grande Boucle with 157km from Belfort to Porrentruy and seven categorized climbs, including La Caquerelle (Cat. 2) and La Croix (Cat. 1) in the final 35k.
QUOTES / Alejandro Valverde: “To be honest, it seems like the Tour is not my race at all and, most especially, this Tour is not being the best for me. Good luck is not at my side, that’s for sure. After the two crashes yesterday, I was feeling quite strong today and I had a flat tire in the worst possible moment. just before starting the climb and when the pace was getting to the highest. I was about to enter the group, but they were riding on full steam and I came with my legs really swollen due to the effort. I went on my own pace through the climb and overtook many people, but it was impossible to get to the front. The team was superb, all of them did a great work and we did all we could do. When things go this way, you can’t do anything else. Still, not everything is lost, though it’s obvious that the GC will be really difficult with so much time lost, even when I think that we can stay with the other riders apart from those three or four at a higher level”.
Visconti 9th at Austria ITT; Pardilla takes final top ten overall
In turn, Movistar Team closed -in the eve of Sunday’s final circuit in Vienna, with a predictable sprint finish- their participation in the 64th Tour of Austria with a notable performance in the race’s 24k ITT in Podersdorf on Saturday. Giovanni Visconti, who claimed 8th yesterday at Melk’s bunch sprint -won by Modolo (COG)-, was once again the best from the Blue riders into a time trial where five of their contenders -Castroviejo (11th, after a great first part), Samoilau, Konovalovas and Intxausti- clocked a good time within 2 minutes of the day’s winner Marco Pinotti (BMC). Behind, Sergio Pardilla defended himself well again into his most difficult speciality and saved a place within the best ten in the overall classification, still led by Dane Jakob Fuglsang (RNT).