Barely 14 kilometers of individual time trial at 2015 Tour de France unveiled today make for interesting Grande Boucle edition, with increased chances for the Movistar Team
With just 13.7km ITT on the opening day in Utrecht, to be added to the 28km TTT to Plumelec on day nine, the 2015 Tour de France, which was presented this morning at Paris’ Palais des Congrès, will bring the cobblestones back on stage four as well as two hill-top finishes -Huy (3rd) and Mur de Bretagne (8th) before the big mountains on weeks two and three. Pyrenees will come first, with summit arrivées at La Pierre Saint Martin, Cauterets and Plateau-de-Beille, before three consecutive mountain-top courses to Pra-Loup, La Toussuire and L’Alpe d’Huez. With the route announced, the Blues’ main figures offered their impressions; here follow World No. 1 Alejandro Valverde, 2013 runner-up Nairo Quintana and the Movistar Team’s general manager, Eusebio Unzué.
Nairo Quintana: “On paper, it looks like a good route for me, it suits me well. Very few kilometers of time trials, plenty of mountains… the only thing that could become worrisome is the pavé. It’s a day where, just as we saw this season, we have to pay full attention – I mean, you won’t probably win the Tour there, but you might lose it. You must keep that into account and stay much focused on it, because it’s going to be long and the last two sections will be especially tricky and demanding. With so many mountain-top finishes, the route plays on my favour, and though I’m still to confirm my race schedule, I’ll probably plan my training on coming at 100% and fight for the win. Those are really good climbs for me, plus the TTs are not long at all this year – I’m not afraid of the TTT, though, because we’ve already proven what we can do. Of course, having the world’s number one by my side makes me more calm and confident – but it won’t be just Alejandro, but the whole team. I’m sure we will bring a strong squad to the start. This team always goes into a race to win it.”
Alejandro Valverde: “It’s a beautiful Tour for me, and also for Nairo, because it has few kilometers of time trialling – just the 14km on day one and the Plumelec TTT, with only 28km. Those eight mountain-top finishes make this Tour a very hard one, probably the most in the last few years. I’m surprised they left so few terrain for TT specialists, but also the fact that the mountain stages are shorter than in previous times, quite shorter. The race route looks more like the Vuelta’s. As I’ve already stated many times before, I know what my place would be there, and even more considering how well this route suits Nairo. If I make it to the start, I think we can make a good duo, as we did in this year’s Vuelta before he crashed. I think this Tour is really good for the team. We didn’t talk yet about my calendar and we won’t probably be doing it until the first training camp in mid November. Before we see there what’s the best thing to do, I won’t start thinking about which GTs I’ll ride in 2015.”
Eusebio Unzué: “It’s clearly a Tour for climbers. I don’t remember a Tour route with such short TT’s, only 14km plus a TTT which will become more important than before. It might be a spectacular race. For us, it’s a really attractive Tour which, on the other hand, has a clear pre-race strategy: getting to Pau safe and sound. If we achieve it, it will be really interesting for us. This first week has the cobblestones, which we already saw last year, but in a smaller amount; then, some windy stages we’ll have to pay attention to – as I said, it will be a matter of getting through those first days to come with a good chance to the Pyrenees and the Alps, where the ‘second Tour’ will start. Talking about Nairo, Alejandro or both starting the race is too premature at this point. We will have our first pre-season meeting in Pamplona in a few days, and that will be the moment to choose their calendar.”