Tour de France (st. 7)
Valverde takes 12th into selected group at Tour stage seven, reaches first mountain block within first ten overall. Minor incidents for Rojas, Visconti in finale
PICTURES | 2014 Tour de France gallery
Though the Movistar Team bus seemed more like a ‘bandage competition’ after the finish in Nancy, following the second longest stage in the 2014 Tour de France – 235km starting at Épernay, John Gadret’s hometown-, no complaints could be heard from any of the telephone squad’s riders; more like the opposite, as they all committed to the limit to protect Alejandro Valverde, who has got through the first week of the race within the best ten overall (+2’11”.)
The Spaniard’s team-mates worked relentlessly during the flat section, often with stretches of strong wind, preceeding the two final, Cat-4 climbs: Maron and Boufflers. There was special engagement from the two men most harmed by yesterday’s setbacks, Ion Izagirre and Imanol Erviti, as well as Beñat Intxausti, who already into the cotes, led his way up into the bunch before the slopes -peaking over 10%- that cleaned the group and left only the favourites up-front.
Just 30 riders reached together a final straight which saw two crashes -an earlier pile-up at the summit of Maron left José Joaquín Rojas out of contention, yet with no relevant damage for the Murcian- and a photo-finish sprint where Italian Matteo Trentin (OPQ) beat green jersey holder Peter Sagan (CAN). The finish, which Valverde reached in 12th, couldn’t be contested by Giovanni Visconti, with a mechanical at 15km from the end. The Italian and all the Blues will search tomorrow for success in the final wall of La Mauselaine (Cat-3; 1.8km at 10.3%) in Gérardmer, end of a 161km route that will also feature the consecutive climbs of the Col de la Croix des Moinats (Cat-2) and the Col de la Grosse Pierre (Cat-2.)