Movistar Team rides brilliant team time trial in Tour de France, only beaten by BMC and SKY; Valverde and Quintana now sitting in 7th and 9th overall
Four seconds avoided the Movistar Team claiming one of their most resounding victories into a discipline that rewards the squad as a whole: the team time trial. The 28km route from Vannes to Plumelec on stage nine of the Tour de France, with up to three uphill sections -including the demanding Côte de Cadoudal into the last 2k-, offered a thrilling duel between the Unzué-led squad, the British Team Sky and American outfit BMC, world champions in 2014 and winners by less than one second, while the telephone squad took 3rd place.
Loyal to their usual strategy -keeping the group together-, the Movistar Team still had its nine members pushing through the second intermediate point, just 8km from the finish, making up a 13-second deficit with BMC and leaving it in only three, with Sky a second quicker. A brief moment of discoordination into the second climb forced the Blues, with Dowsett having dropped back, to get back to their formation, keep pulling and recovering, so much that they got to the foot of Cadoudal, down to seven after Erviti completed his job, practically with the same time of BMC.
Eventually, the 32'19" clocked by Valverde, Quintana, Castroviejo, Anacona and a brilliant Herrada -Malori and Gorka Izagirre dropped back into the beginning of the climb- made the two GC references from the Movistar Team getting into the top-ten, with 'Bala' in 7th (+1'50") and Nairo in ninth (+1'59"). The Colombian will be wearing the white jersey as 2nd behind Sagan (TCS; points leader) in the young riders' classification on Tuesday, after a first rest day in Pau the riders will get to by plane, with the rest of the convoy completing the transfer on the road.
Eusebio Unzué: “The result itself is magnificent, as well the third spot as losing only four seconds; we would have taken it if offered before the start. However, there's a bittersweet taste as we think we lost it at a point of the route, the one with biggest crowds, where the group lost a big of order almost inadvertently. We might have conceded, I think, ten to fifteen seconds into that point, surely decisive for the win. The lads are the ones more conscious about the mistake.
"Still, I think we must remain optimistic about this result. It's only that you remain so close to taking a TTT win in the Tour, which would have confirmed the great progression we've carried over the last four years, with some good results along the road. We were convinced we could win. Summing things up, we reduced our deficit to some of the GC rivals -Alberto, Rigoberto-; others were further behind, like Nibali or 'Purito'; and the ones who were over us took insignificant gains, with those 3" behind Froome and 4" to van Garderen.
"Those pointed out as big favourites have all shown with facts they're up for the fight, and now it's time to tackle the mountains very consciously, without ruling out any rivals. Surely the Pyrenees will offer some surprises, and we will have to wait until the Plateau de Beille climb to really know who are the biggest candidates. This first chain of mountains will create serious changes in the GC, prior to a final week full of hardness, and also difficult for the previous efforts. We're happy with how everything went up to date, apart from that time lost on stage two, and remain hopeful for what's to come."