Nairo Quintana concedes 23" against Froome (SKY) as Brit becomes yellow jersey following audacious attack into Peyresourde descent; Colombian now sits sixth overall in Tour de France as Valverde sacrifices himself for Nairo -alongside big Movistar Team-, remains fifth. 'Grande Boucle' into Spanish roads on Sunday towards Arcalís
A powerful descent by Chris Froome (SKY) into the Col de Peyresourde awarded him victory in Bagnères-de-Luchon and the race lead in the 2016 Tour de France, after a tremendously hard day, of impressive pace and high temperatures, from Pau and into the Pyrenees (184km). The Movistar Team worked from the very beginning, together with their rivals from the British squad, to not let a minute's break and keep the pace high, until Nairo Quintana got into a difficult situation in the last downhill. The Colombian climber ended up conceding twenty-three seconds against his biggest rival: 13" over the finish, 10" as a result of the first-place bonus.
Vigilance by Erviti and Jesús Herrada into the early breaks -51km were covered into the first hour of racing; the break didn't form until the foot of the Tourmalet (HC)- started showing the attitude by the Blues today. It was continued by Nelson Oliveira, really strong to set a suffering pace both into the final stretch of the Tourmalet and in the beginning of the Col de Val Louron (Cat-1). And following a long stint at the front by Mikel Landa (SKY), Ion Izagirre took again on the 'third man' role he's more than deserved alongside the team leaders, picking up the pressure on the penultimate climb and still staying with Nairo and Alejandro Valverde into the foot of the last ascent.
After some early moves from Henao (SKY), Froome or even Quintana himself, the Colombian's rivals often followed by a splendid Valverde in his team-mate's defense, the unexpected action from Froome got Nairo unprepared, the Boyacá-born cycling again requiring help from 'Bala' to limit losses into a final descent which shouldn't be decisive over the three weeks of racing. The Movistar Team will have a chance to bounce back at home on Sunday, with 184.5km starting in Vielha and five tough climbs en route to Andorra: Bonaigua (Cat-1), Cantó (Cat-1), Comella (Cat-2), Beixalis (Cat-1) and Ordino / Arcalís (HC; 10km at 7.2%).
Nairo Quintana: "We climbed well all stage and the team was superb all day; my team-mates worked their hearts out and sticked to the original plan until the very last climb. Entering the descent of the Peyresourde, I took a bottle of water to refresh myself; Froome profited from that move to take a chance into the downhill and open a gap. I hesitated for a couple of seconds and he was gone. I just thought it would be a fast descent. Alejandro went flat out to chase that move, but it wasn't enought. Those are seconds I hope won't decide the race; the team-mates were perfect, but at the end, it was a mistake from myself."
Alejandro Valverde: "I attacked into the final slopes of the Peyresourde, just like I was told, and later on lost a bit of distance because I was struggling after such a strong move. When I dropped back, Nairo was still there with Froome; I didn't see his move live, I just saw Froome away seconds later, and when I realized that was the situation, I went to the front of the group as fast as I could, even before the first turn of the descent, and went downhill with all I had left in the tank. The other GC contenders started working when it was too late; everyone wants to win the Tour, but at the end, we always end up working alone. Froome took a beautiful victory – hats off to him."