Tour de France (st. 6)
Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde & Movistar Team tackle Pyrenees in TDF -Aspin as main climb on Friday- after no difficulties get in their way to Montauban; Colombian remains 7th overall, with 'Bala' in 3rd
Without any troubles. The Movistar Team got unscathed through the last ‘transfer on bike’ towards their first real mountain goal in the Pyrenees of the 2016 Tour de France. The Blues wore the traditional San Fermín scarf in Arpajon-sur-Cère before taking on the hot, relatively fast 190km towards Montauban, where Mark Cavendish (DDD) claimed his third stage win in the race. The squad directed by José Luis Arrieta and Chente García Acosta thus kept Nairo Quintana in his original seventh place overall -Alejandro Valverde as top of the Spanish outfit in third spot- before a trio of Pyrenean mountains from Friday to Sunday, which will start with the theoretically least hard of the three: 162.5km from L’Isle-Jourdain to an uphill finish in the Lac de Payolle and through the Col d’Aspin from Arreau (Cat-1): 12km at 6.5%, which could already bring some surprises.
THE MAIN ACTORS’ REACTIONS:
Nairo Quintana (audio): “It was another day of work properly done by my team-mates – they were excellent, without any errors. We got well through this final flat stage, which combined with all that first week was our first main goal in the Tour, and we’re raring to do into the mountains. Tomorrow’s finale will be already difficult with the Aspin, where we hope that the road will start setting things straight in the race. Froome attacking on the first mountain day as in previous years? Well, I think we might see more of the same tomorrow…!”
Alejandro Valverde (video): “It was quite of an easy day, but despite that calm pace, the rolling route and especially the heat made for some tough legs in the end and lots of nerves with the swerving into the finish. That’s how the Tour de France looks anyway. Those nerves will happen again tomorrow, but in a very different way. It will be an important day, and I feel like we could see something important tomorrow. However, I feel like the hardness on those two mountain stages from Saturday and Sunday might make tomorrow’s racing more conservative – we might not see as much of a difference on the Aspin as if the race scheme was less focused on the weekend.”
Dani Moreno (video): “Yesterday’s stage was a tough one because we tried to make it that way in the finale. We all found good legs and, apart from the fruit out actions had, our main gain from the Le Lioran finish was that: the good feelings into all of us. Anything can happen in the Pyrenees, yet, after yesterday’s good performance from all of us, we’ll be in good spirits and ready to take on that challenge with lots of focus and strength. Everyone talks about Nairo and Froome as the two main candidates; they seem to be riding calmly yet fully on, and I think that the combined efforts from the previous stages will bring some epic racing in the weekend. Surely, there will be some other important rivals who won’t make things easy for them. Let’s see what we can do to help Nairo.”
José Luis Arrieta (Sports Director; audio): “We pulled yesterday because we thought we should act like that. Sky asked us for some help and the truth was, neither them nor us wanted to let a breakaway grow and reach the finish line with 15 minutes of advantage, because such would be a big lack of respect towards the race. We knew the roads we would be crossing, we didn’t want either to see people riding relaxed in the finale, and we also wanted to profit from the hot weather conditions to test everyone’s legs and see if someone cracked. All in all, we’re happy about how things went this week: we’re in good mood, we went through no crashes, everyone is doing well. The Pyrenees are starting tomorrow with an important test, even if I feel like Saturday and Sunday will be the hardest days and the ones to watch. However, we don’t rule anything out in the Aspin. Froome might give it a try again tomorrow as in previous seasons. Should they go on the attack, we will try to stay as close as possible and play our cards when we see it’s right. The Tour is won or lost in Paris; it’s not like you’re making the gaps on stage 21, rather I mean that you must keep a view on the full three weeks. We’re happy with how things went so far, and we must keep riding one stage at a time.”