The telephone squad’s general manager analyses a Grande Boucle marked by initial misfortune and sweet taste by Valverde’s victory in the last week
Our Tour was conditioned by the first week. It was exaggerately hard, even cruel, because it’s not normal what happened to us one day, with all riders crashing. Apart from physical damage, that week left us with moral sequels because, other than losing one of our goals, as it was to fight for a podium place, people like Plaza, Kiryienka or Karpets did not get recovered – some days, our hotel seemed more like a field clinic, and that undermines your moral.
Kicking off from the situation in front of us from day six, with three riders less, all the ones suffering… it’s true that we spent anonymous days in this year’s Tour, but looking at everything that happened, I think we can leave this Tour satisfied. When you reach the last week of racing without any wins, stress and anxiety always come along – and if you notch them up in such a way, the effect of them multiplies itself and the taste leaving the race is the one from the victory. It leads you to keep going with such a brilliant season as the one we’re making. Bit by bit, riders got recovered and we saw that the reward could come in the last week as a stage victory, which was the other goal in this year’s Tour. And it did – it was so splendid because Alejandro’s victory came in a huge mountain stage, with all other five team-mates helping him importantly, and leading Alejandro back into world cycling’s spotlight.
We were bringing Alejandro to this race in order to contest the overall podium, bur crashes made our goal vanish. We will never know how it would have unfolded without the crashes, but seeing how he ended up, the positive thing is that he was reinforced in his first contact with a GT since 2009, as well on a sporting side as mentally, because it was hard to get over that mifortune and even, some times, we were thinking about taking him out of the race. However, he bounced back from it all and I’m still confident about Alejandro making a Tour podium. I find more reasons to keep trying rather than not. In the last few years, we’re seeing the protagonists changing, and he was at the same level of all those, many times.
Regarding the rest of the squad, we couldn’t make most of the winning breakaways in the second half of the Tour because we lost three crucial riders for those duties: Rojas, Erviti and Iván. We noted their absence so much. The Tour performance by Karpets, Plaza and Kiryienka was overshadowed by the crashes and you can’t analyse it much, because they rode with pain. Rui has made a great Tour, he doesn’t stop progressing and that’s really important, because he rode some good stages. With Cobo, under relative discretion, we clinched our objective of getting him in good physical and mental condition, because he saw himself within the strongest before his main goal of the season, the Vuelta. Alejandro was almost ruled out for that race, but seeing how he’s finishing this Tour, we’ll think about this Vuelta possibility. We must see how he does after the Olympics, but possibly, we’ll only decide on his Vuelta participation a few days before it. Theoretically, he should be really tired after such a long season, but the only positive side form the crashes is that he didn’t spend so much on some stages, and that made him finish the Tour a bit more fresh.
About the race itself, we saw Wiggins confirming he was the best timetriallist, but also defending himself as a huge climber and surrounded by an enormous team work. Probably, with any other route the result would have been the same, but those 110k of time trial were a burder for many against such a specialist that didn’t either lose any time on the mountains. His biggest rival was his main domestique, and it’ll always be a mystery how the race would have been should Froome have raced for another squad, because what he showed to us in this Tour was a great virtue, with a spectacular level in the mountains and great TT performance.