Valverde (9th), Quintana (12th) stay into favourites' group at Saint-Pierre's finish in Rodez, as peloton covers Tour stage 13 with temperatures close to 40ºC
It was difficult for everyone to manager the 'hangover' after the Pyrenees in the Tour de France, especially with continuous ups and downs at the end of stage 13 -195km between Muret and Rodez-, covered under intense heat, more than any other day in this year's Grande Boucle and at times close to 40ºC.
Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde and the whole Movistar Team always stayed at the front of the bunch, with less stress than into the opening days but having to face a hard finale, saving as much energy as possible after three tremendous days of mountains which favoured fresher riders into the last slope, with Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) narrowly beating Peter Sagan (TCS) into an agonic sprint where ‘Bala’ finished in 9th place, with Nairo in 12th alongside the rest of GC contenders.
The Movistar Team, which showed its yellow Catlike helmets during the stage as leaders of the TDF's teams' classification, had double recognition at the race depart and into a special podium held by RAGT, sponsors of that ranking. Saturday will probably bring the big guns back to the front as the Croix-Neuve (2.7km at almost 11% average) will be tackled just before the finish in Mende (stage 14).
Nairo Quintana: “It was another day of terrible heat, with lots of small climbs, some points where winds blew hard… the day wasn't really easy. That makes a harder impact as we're still suffering from the Pyrenees. Our objective during the next few days will be recovering as much as we can and find the Alps in order to attack, but we're conscious that there are no easy days and there could be some battle tomorrow. Difficult finishes are still to come before the rest day, with roundabouts, descents… and likely crashes force us to keep entirely focused and at the front. We'll all keep working to avoid any troubles and, if necessary, surely Alejandro will help me out to leave Froome alone into the last week. But there's much remaining before that."