Movistar Team TT specialists shine in Tour de Pologne's closing 25km course to take the Blues' 31st success of the 2016 season; Rubén Fernández finishes 6th overall
Following deluge into the previous two stages in the Tatr mountains, including a hellish ride on Saturday with more than 80 abandons, and after crashes -with Fran Ventoso and Andrey Amador retired, fortunately not seriously hurt-, frozen hands… the last day of the 2016 Tour de Pologne the Movistar Team the taste of victory. And it came in a very unexpected, dominant way.
Alex Dowsett -28’59” to complete the 25km flat TT stage seven in Kraków- and Jonathan Castroviejo, 22” down on his team-mate, made the expectations of DS José Luis Jaimerena become reality as the Blues snatched a one-two that marks their 31st success of the year, now just five short of their all-time record high of 36 in 1998.
Rubén Fernández also featured prominently for the Movistar Team in Poland. The 25-year-old climber fron Murcia jumped two places forward in the overall classification on this final day, from 8th to 6th, following a nice TT performance to second his big effort to 8th in Zakopane’s circuit on Saturday. There, the one-man-show by Tim Wellens (LTS) all but secured triumph for him in the 2016 edition, the Belgian following the steps of 2015 victor Ion Izagirre who now defends the Blues’ pavillion in the Tour de France.
Alex Dowsett: “I knew it was going to be difficult – the difficult thing for me was actually getting to the stage. Yesterday, unfortunately we didn’t race, but it would have been really tough for me, the day before being just as hard just to make it through.
"I got here and looking at who was in the field, there were a couple of guys that could be near me if I had just ‘good’ legs, but I knew I stood a good chance of winning. In the end, the time trial went well for me: legs felt well all the way through, the numbers were good – I’m just happy with how it all went. It’s a big one, especially considering the important community of haemophiliacs here in Poland.
"It’s a way to send a message, especially to the young kids, that you can keep on achieving great things even when suffering from it. I just want to thank the team and its sponsors for their support to this victory today.”
Tour de France: Nervous, cobbled finish before second rest day
A tricky finale, more usually put into the Giro or the Vuelta rather than the ‘Grande Boucle’, took the riders of the 2016 Tour de France into another excruciating journey on stage 16, 209km covered at a whooping 47kph+ average between Moirans-en-Montagne and Bern.
A breakaway by Tony Martin with team-mate Julien Alaphilippe (EQS) forced the sprinters’ teams to keep a steady, incredible pace during the barely four-and-a-half hours of racing, which, combined with the treacherous final stretch -two little climbs at 6-7%, the former over thick cobblestones-, reduced the leading bunch to just about thirty riders.
Alejandro Valverde got himself at the front into the final 300 meters and even tried to launch his sprint, eventually coming across the line in 11th spot as Nairo Quintana did not lose any time against the GC contenders. The two Movistar Team leaders remain in 4th and 5th overall before a well-deserved second rest day comes for the riders on Swiss soil tomorrow, prelude to the tremendous Alps that will decide the overall outcome.