Vuelta a España (st. 5) / Poitou-Charentes (st. 2)
Both in the Vuelta a España -where Valverde was 6th, Nairo Quintana in 13th- and in Poitou-Charentes -Arcas 9th-, Movistar Team narrowly gets through crashes on Wednesday
The much-dreaded final stress due to finish crashes was suffered by the Movistar Team in both the Vuelta a España and the Tour du Poitou-Charentes on Wednesday. Over at stage 5 in the Spanish grandtour -171km between Viveiro and Lugo-, initially covered under soaking rain which later turned into a hot, sunny day, Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana had to go through the two crashes happenning into a lumpy, twisty, dangerous finale. 'Bala' got 6th at the closing sprint -with Gianni Meersman (EQS) claiming his second stage win- while Nairo Quintana finished in 13th spot, trying not to lose a single meter despite the logical time neutralisation by the race jury, which left the GC mostly as in the day prior. Atapuma (BMC) keeps the red jersey, with Valverde in 2nd and Nairo now 4th as the account of positions got him ahead of Chaves (OBE).
"At this finish it was key to remain in perfect position, and seeking for that, I ended up contesting the sprint", explained Alejandro following stage five. "I got boxed in once the Etixx riders hit the front to bring Meersman ahead; shouldn't I'd been caught by that, I could have even got the win. However, I don't feel like I've lost a chance rather than getting through the day well: the only relevant thing here was avoiding crashes, and we accomplished that mission." Quintana, in turn, underlined the "strong winds at parts of the course. It was sort of a difficult day, but we got through well. Looking at all those crashes, it just makes you happy to be OK!" Thursday will be another demanding day, probably the most evident mid-mountain finale in this Vuelta: four climbs in the last 80km -only one categorized ascent, though, plus an uphill finish- of a 163km journey from Monforte de Lemos to Luintra.
It was quite the same at the Tour du Poitou-Charentes, where Tom Van Asbroeck (TLJ) claimed a sprint win following a massive pile-up caused by a crash from Nacer Bouhanni (COF). The Movistar Team riders directed by José Luis Jaimerena completed their day unscathed -with Jorge Arcas in 9th-, as both Nelson Oliveira (14th) and Alex Dowsett (25th) coped better with heat -less intense at today's 180km trek between La Rochelle and Niort- to get closer to Thursday's decisive TT in Châtellerault (23km). The time trial will put an end to a long day, as a double sector will start in the morning with a 95km road stage.