Tour de France (st. 5)
Quintana Valverde get through demanding 5th chapter in the Tour together with whole Movistar Team, as gusty winds, pouring rain and full stress mark first of three days leading up to difficult Brittany weekend
The fifth day of the 2015 Tour de France had nothing of the respite that many would have thought after seven cobblestone sections were crossed yesterday. The 189.5km journey from Arras to Amiens, with only one early escapee in Pierre-Luc Perichon (BSE) and almost 90km of blocks riding side by side after the Frenchman was caught, forced the Movistar Team and all squads to keep attention and take care of their leaders.
Nairo Quintana had support in Malori, Erviti, Gorka Izagirre, Castroviejo and even Alejandro Valverde, everyone making sure that the Colombian was as less affected by the wind as possible -head and crosswinds becoming a crucial factor today, together with several rainy spells throughout the day-. The Boyacá-born rider finished safely into a 90-man field where André Greipel (LTS) took the day's honours into the final sprint.
'Bala' and Nairo remain into 16th and 17th overall, respectively 2'03" and 2'08" away from Tony Martin (EQS), who kept the 'maillot jaune' and will try to defend it into an open finish for stage six, Thursday: slopes up to 9% into the final kilometer in Le Havre will make things harder for sprinters after yet another long day (192km) starting at Abbeville.
Nairo Quintana: "There were lots of crashes, but we always kept the front and that saved us from all incidents. Another day without any troubles. In general and as an overview, I wouldn't say these last five days were excellent, since we failed on stage two and rivals took a big gap, that minute and a half, but otherwise, seeing how we reacted into the cobblestones, against the wind… the team was spectacular. I think that, should we get through this first week unscathed and not further than this, we should be satisfied."
Jonathan Castroviejo: “I suppose many might have seen on TV that it was a nervous day, but down on the road, I can say it felt quite more nervous than it seemed. We got through the day and that's really much; this is one of the hardest days I remember on a bike. For me, there's no doubt: it was quite more demanding than the cobblestones on Tuesday. There were horrible winds, rain, roads that stayed moist forever, some sunny spells later turning into more rain… the only important thing is that we got through all problems and everything's allright. Nairo and Alejandro finished up-front, once again without any problems, and for us it's a task of looking towards tomorrow. There's a prediction of slightly less dangerous winds, but the roads near Le Havre are complicated. Then again, with such a squad like the one we have, we'll surely get through everything we encounter."
Alejandro Valverde: "It was a complicated stage for all of us, with all factors against: rain, wind, really bad roads, narrow and rugous… everyone wants to get to the front and all you could see was bound to happen – crashes galore. There's not much to see: one stage done and dusted, one less to go. Let's hope for better weather tomorrow, at least."
Alex Dowsett: “My target for the last couple of days has been taking it day-by-day, just trying to get through it, and today was the toughest day I've ever had in a bike race. My body just shut down, average rate was 115bpm and I was flat out all day. I’m hoping today’s stage is gonna be the worst day, being the ride after the crash and everything, I’ll be surely better and hopefully I’ll recover enough to do a good job for the squad in the team time trial on Sunday.”