Tour de France (st. 15) / Tour de Pologne stage six cancelled
Alejandro Valverde moves into Lacets, Ion Izagirre and Nelson Oliveira go into long break as Quintana doesn't move after Sky's supremacy suffocates all moves in Jura climbs; Nairo remains 4th GC, Bala 5th as Jesús Herrada abandons, ill
It was a busy day, with difficult feelings, for the Movistar Team in the Jura mountains. Intense heat reached the race for the first time in more than two weeks as the telephone squad lost one of its riders in Jesús Herrada. Feverish and suffering from stomach problems during the last few days, he was left with no energy from the very start of the 160km trek between Bourg-en-Bresse and Culoz, the 25-year-old Spaniard sadly becoming the Blues' first abandon in the 'Grande Boucle' this year.
The telephone squad tried to bounce things back as they got two men into the 30-rider breakaway that included stage winner Jarlinson Pantano (IAM). Ion Izagirre and Nelson Oliveira fought at the front until they lost the wheel of the leaders in the Grand Colombier (HC) and chose to wait for the GC group, where Alejandro Valverde twice tried to shake things up: one into the final climb of the Lacets (Cat-1), going after Fabio Aru's (AST) previous attempt, and another one into the descent, working together with Frenchman Romain Bardet (ALM).
At both attempts, 'Bala' found insistent pacing from SKY's Wout Poels, which kept his leader Chris Froome calm and safely in yellow, with Nairo Quintana 4th in the GC after the day, at 2'59", and Alejandro Valverde in 5th, 3’17” in arrears. Movistar is back in the lead of the teams' overall classification, and will have another long journey to face on Monday (209km), with a sting at the tail in Bern's finish (Switzerland), before the second rest day follows on Tuesday.
Alejandro Valverde: “It was a tremendously hard stage; so hot, with melting tarmac which sticked to our tubulars… I'm glad we got through the day safe. Sky blocked the stage: I attacked with Aru, trying to climb up the road in case Nairo could try it, but the pace of Froome's team-mates is probably the hardest you can climb on your own even when leading your squad. You've got to keep trying, but at the moment it's very difficult; let's see what we can achieve next week.
"My legs are feeling pretty similar to the Giro's, I keep doing well – yet everything is focused on Nairo. I got all pressure off my shoulders with my Tour podium finish last season and I don't keep it on my plans for that next week, even more so when I snatched another one in this year's Giro. It's just enjoying the biggest race in the world and helping Nairo out; my season is already complete with what I did so far. Nairo? He has to try it when he considers he can hurt the competitors.
"I'd like to send all my support to Jesús; we knew he was recovering badly, so this was sort of expected. Let's hope he heals as soon as possible."
Nairo Quintana: “We got through the day all the best we could. It was so hot, and our main goal today was recovering from so many days struggling against the wind. To be honest, Sky looked really, really strong. They even go after moves which other teams in their same situation would not chase. We tried to move the peloton with Alejandro and we felt their strength there. We tried to break the GC group again into the descent, but the hard pace, the hgih temperatures, their insistence… they all made it difficult for us. I’m really happy about Jarlinson’s win – hats off to them and all my recognition to his family, in a beautiful day for Colombia. We trained together in Boyacá, he was coming with great ambitions to this Tour, and he’s riding brilliantly.”
Tour de Pologne: Queen stage cancelled
After a hellish day of racing on Saturday, the organisers of the Tour de Pologne had to twice cut the route proposed for Sunday's stage six in Bukowina Tatrzanska), the weather forecast looking as grim -10ºC, continuous drizzle over the course, deteriorated roads- as on the eve of this Queen stage. Even though racing started at 3.50pm, with only 72km on the menu, race conditions were considered extreme as riders got through the opening kilometers. The stage was then cancelled.
Rubén Fernández remains in 8th overall as Tim Wellens (LTS) will seek to retain a certain GC victory in the 25km TT in and around Kraków. Comment from José Luis Jaimerena (in Spanish) can be found on our SoundCloud channel.
Results: Tour de France