Tour de France (st. 10)
Movistar Team leader resists with GC contenders, finishes in 3rd atop La Planche des Belles Filles and enters Tour de France’s provisional top-3, as Contador (TCS) crashes out. Long breakaway by Visconti
PICTURES | 2014 Tour de France gallery
Italian Vincenzo Nibali (AST) got back his yellow jersey of the 2014 Tour de France with a solo win on top of the Cat-1 climb of La Planche des Belles Filles, where a huge mountain stage finished on Monday after 161km, seven categorized climbs in the Vosges and very changing weather, which caused lots of moves and setbacks into the bunch. The Movistar Team showed great attitude from the beginning of the day, sending Giovanni Visconti into a ten-man break that shrunk progressively to end up with four riders ahead after the Col des Chevrères: Kwiatkowski (OPQ), who came from the bunch after splits in the descent of the Firstplan (Cat-2); Joaquim Rodríguez (KAT), Amaël Moinard (BMC) and Visconti himself, all of them eventually neutralized.
Through that penultimate ascent, and after making up a four-minute deficit to Kwiatkowski, rode a small bunch of about twenty riders with two of the Blues: Alejandro Valverde and John Gadret. The Frenchman accompanied the Spaniard until halfway through the last climb, following great support from Herrada and Rojas in pursuit of the breakaway, and kept him away from mishaps as serious as the one suffered by Contador (TCS), one of the biggest favourites, forced to abandon after a big crash in the descent of the Petit Ballon (Cat-1). The attack by Nibali reduced the group even more, with Valverde having to stick to the other favourites after losing contact with the Italian. Following some struggling, Alejandro was able to sprint to the line to take 3rd, 20″ after the new leader, and jump four places ahead in the standings, also in third place -2’47” behind Nibali-.
“I was noticed in the feed zone he had abandoned the race and I want to send him my support from here,” was Valverde’s first reaction about Contador after crossing the finish. “I saw him crashing right in front of me; I think he lost contact with the handlebars due to a pothole, we were riding so fast and everything happened in a second, if was really bad. For the rest, I’m happy – everything went fine considering the awful day we went through, with that rain and the hard climbs. Everything is going alright up to this point, I feel strong. Nibali showed to really be on top of his game, a bit above us, but the race is long and we’ll see how we tackle it.” To think about the eleven stages left, the Movistar Team leader and all his team-mates will enjoy a well-deserved rest day tomorrow before the Grande Boucle gets back into action on Wednesday.