Tour de France (st. 7)
Quintana and Movistar Team get with no incidents through stage seven of the Tour, first in Brittany before Mûr climb on Saturday, Plumelec TTT on Sunday
Wounds due to crashes on Thursday were only a long memory for Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) during stage seven of the 2015 Tour de France -190.5km across Bretagne, from Livarot to Fougères-, summed up into a classical scheme (breakaway, chase, bunch sprint) crowned by a convincing win from Briton Mark Cavendish (EQS).
A good job from the telephone squad's rouleurs, Imanol Erviti and Adriano Malori, together with coverage from the likes of Castroviejo, Herrada, Anacona or Gorka Izagirre, was as essential as usual for the two Blue references to cross the line without losing any time, now sitting 1’51” -‘Bala’ in 15th place- and 1’56” -Nairo, 16th- overall behind new 'maillot jaune' Chris Froome (SKY).
Saturday will bring another hilltop finish over the 2km (6.9% average) of the Mûr de Bretagne, prelude of the team time trial -28km with three small climbs between Vannes and Plumelec- set to close the first block of the race route on Sunday.
Nairo Quintana: "It was another one of those 'dangerous' stages for riders like me, but we got through the day pretty well, without any big problems. All was easy to handle. They didn't put stitches on my elbow at the end, I only wear these bandages, but it's true that it hurts a bit, though it doesn't compromise my performance. I should keep recovering day by day."
Alejandro Valverde: “It was a more calm day; in general, a normal stage for all of us. A break going away early, 50km full of stress – which is inevitable in this race… I'd say it went pretty much well. I'm still a bit sore, my knee hurts a bit, but I hope it'll be completely fine in a couple of days.
"It's true that we're heading into the end of the first week with some time lost, but not too much. The Tour is really hard and history shows you can make up these gaps or increase them almost every day. We've got a great team, Nairo is doing well and we'll fight to climb up the standings. Tomorrow? Let's see if I recover well. Should we come into the final slope in good position, we might give it a shot."
Eusebio Unzué: "There was some nervousness due to the narrow roads, the temperatures heating up suddenly… but all in all, it wasn't a complicated day. When we asked Nairo and Alejandro halfway through the stage, they didn't complain after their crashes yesterday, and my first impression is that they got through the day without any complications. There shouldn't be big time gaps tomorrow at the Mûr de Bretagne if all favourites come into good position, but we will have to remain attentive not to lose any time.
"It's a good finish for Alejandro, as it is for other GC riders like 'Purito', as long as they stay up-front. Still, if we get through tomorrow's stage with the same news as we did today, knowing that no one from our team crashed, the outcome for the Movistar Team before the TTT would be interesting, having got through all those difficult stages in the position we are."