Tour de France (st. 11)
Notable break by Jesús Herrada as Valverde and Movistar team-mates keep full focus in Tou’r slumpy stage eleven. 6th place for Rojas in Oyonnax
PICTURES | 2014 Tour de France gallery
The passage of the Tour de France through the Jura mountains in the way from the Vosges to the Alps finally brought sun and heat to the Grande Boucle, which covered on Wednesday 187 kilometers between Besançon and Oyonnax. The lumpy roads, with four cols in the finale, left barely thirty riders into the bunch that unsuccessfully pursuited Tony Gallopin (LTB), day’s winner after a well-timed„ late attack.
Good weather brought excellent attitude from a Movistar Team that sone in several fronts during the closing stages. Jesús Herrada attacked with 40km remaining at the Côte de Choux (Cat-3), searching for Martin Elmiger (IAM), last survivor of the day’s original attempt, plus Jan Bakelants (OPQ) and Nicolas Roche (TCS), who had gone apart minutes earlier. The Spaniard reached the front group in company of Cyril Gautier (EUC) and pushed with strength to increased a gap which never rose over thirty seconds, Orica and Cannondale focused on the field sprint. As the Blue youngster was caught, the two final descents left break attempts which Alejandro Valverde countered quickly: firstly as a solo effort, then with a notable Ion Izagirre in the last kilometers.
José Joaquín Rojas (6th) was the Movistar Team’s best performer in a day which saw few changes in the overall standings -Valverde stays in 3rd, 2’47” behind Vincenzo Nibali (AST)-. Thursday will bring a stage more suited for pure sprinters -though with another two climbs in the finale- in Tour’s stage twelve from Bourg-en-Bresse to Saint-Étienne (185km.)
Jesús Herrada: “The rest day did well on me, to be honest. It’s my first Tour and I’m happy with how things are going up to date. Legs are getting better and the tank is still pretty much full. And above all, the heat played an impact today. We all are a team, especially Alejandro, who are more used to heat than the other ones, and we feel better in these conditions. This kind of stage, with not-so-hard climbs, more like long slopes, suit me well, and today it was a matter of staying up-front in the finale to get a good position for the descent.
“There were some attacks in the second climb and I asked Alejandro if I should go with them to have some strength up there. That’s why I jumped away – but our main goal was still keeping a good position for the downhill. To tell the truth, this is like another world for me. Let’s hope for the race to get calmer with the heat and the mountains like it did today, because the first week was really stressful: rain, wind… you can never lose focus here – a braking delay or a crash sent you off without prior notice.”
Alejandro Valverde: “I’m really happy there’s some heat on the roads at last. It’s been a really demanding stage, but we’re happy with how things went. We had to stay attentive all day to get through the day as good as possible and the last downhill was crazy. I realized Porte was losing ground behind, saw the Omegas trying to flee and got on their wheel. Some of us opened a gap, but it was really difficult to get to the finish. I could have tried to sprint into a smaller group, but my main task today was not losing any time. The body is feeling all efforts taken and we will have to keep focus, as well tomorrow as in the Alps. Hoping we can find good legs and do well in the weekend.”