Tour de France (final report)
Movistar Team takes two men onto the podium in Paris -Nairo Quintana (2nd, best young rider) and Alejandro Valverde (3rd)- for the first time in its history, wins Tour de France teams' classification -its 3rd after 1991, '99-
The Champs-Élysées in Paris received the survivors in the 102nd Tour de France on Sunday as Chris Froome (SKY) took his second overall victory in a race where the Movistar Team played an undeniably leading role. A stage victory was the only honour not achieved by a voracious telephone squad, whose full roster fulfilled the expectations on their shoulders and fought until the very last day for the final win in the most prestigious stagerace in professional cycling.
Aged only 25, Nairo Quintana claimed his second TDF podium finish after getting stronger and stronger through the race, fighting bravely into roads suiting him least and recovering in the Pyrenees -2nd atop La Pierre-Saint-Martin- before attacking the GC leader in the Alps, where he came again close to a stage win. In turn, Alejandro Valverde (3rd) took a fair reward to a whole sporting career dreaming of the 'Grande Boucle', surprisingly in his first season as main support of another leader, always showing himself solid and courageous.
Additional support from Winner Anacona -3rd at Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne-, Gorka Izagirre and an ever-consistent José Herrada and Jonathan Castroviejo into the mountains, as well as Imanol Erviti, Adriano Malori and Alex Dowsett, the only abandon from the Blues, in all other terrains completed an excellent race from the group directed by José Luis Arrieta and Chente García Acosta, which claimed its first TDF teams' classification win under Telefónica's sponsorship after previous success in 1991 and 1999. This is the overview on the 2015 Tour de France by Eusebio Unzué, general manager of the Movistar Team:
General overview: “I feel really proud about what this team has achieved during the last three weeks. I think we fared really week all over the Tour. We raced somewhat conditioned after the minute and a half we lost in Zeeland, which might have well been decisive for the race's outcome, though at that moment and seeing how the final 55 kilometers went, we were satisfied about staying 'alive' for what was left on the Tour. Shouldn't have we had that bad luck with the splits, the balance between Nairo and Froome would have fallen in favor of the former. Still, everything counts for the final result and we've got nothing to object about Froome's victory. He was the strongest during the opening two weeks, when he rode flawlessly; he had perfect support from a fantastic team and management was crucial. We had out last shot at the final victory yesterday, tried a long attack on the Croix de Fer and also at L'Alpe d'Huez, but it was actually a stage where Froome had domestiques on top of their game and our final chances to turn things around were done."
Nairo Quintana keeps improving: “He's confirmed all hopes we had on him. He made a superb race, three impeccable weeks where only unfavourable circumstances on stage two avoided him winning the Tour. It's not that he lacks experience, rather than that he will discover new strategies to win when he rides the Tour every year. He's young and will improve and mature, yet he's already shown to be perfectly prepared for three-week stageraces, and seeing how he has coped with the pressure of bring one of the main references in the race, it shows us he's strong enough on a physical point of view."
The long-awaited Valverde podium: “There are many reasons to feel satisfied, proud, elated about what Alejandro has accomplished. During his career, he's always set a goal, sort of a challenge on himself, something that gave him more excitement than some victories: jumping onto the Tour de France podium. The most important thing about this third place is how he rode in this Tour and which rivals he had to face. That's the thing that makes us prouder: the fact that he keeps that willingness to fight and overcome any difficulties as a 35-year-old. Combined with Nairo, we can say we had the riders and team most committed to making up the gaps with Froome after the first mountain stage, every single day."
The best team in the Tour: “The teams' classification has a big sentimental value for me: seeing all the boys on the podium always made me tremendously satisfied, and taking this victory again, after such a long time and against such strong rivals, is one of the biggest moments of joy this Tour leaves us. I think it sums up well how regular we were, and above all, how strong they all rode. Sometimes it was Winner riding well in the mountains; some other, it was José Herrada; Castroviejo and Gorka Izagirre also fought a lot; even Malori; the first week, with Dowsett and Imanol…. All of them, every single rider was super important for such a prize. I'm still really sad about not being able to win the TTT and confirm our progression, even more after how we lost it in Plumelec; then again, I feel proud of being able to manage a team which responded so well to all the expectations on the Tour and our squad. These won't count as a victory, but it has a huge value for the boys."