Tour de France (st. 15)
Quintana unable to follow favourites' pace at Col de Peyra Taillade; despite huge work from Betancur, Colombian loses nearly 4 minutes at Le Puy-en-Velay's finish, out of top-ten overall in TDF
The Massif Central climbs in the 2017 Tour de France had no mercy with Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team), who again lost time and chances against the other GC contenders in the race during Sunday's stage 15 -189.5km between Laissac and Le Puy-en-Velay, with a tough final section through the Col de Peyra Taillade (Cat-1) and Saint-Vidal (Cat-4)-.
Despite good support by his team-mates all day -all of them focused on him and absent at the 28-rider breakaway, taking Dutchman Bauke Mollema (TFS) to victory-, the Colombian struggled after two tough days with mountains plus Saturday's uphill finish. Nairo lost contact with the favourites at Peyra Taillade, as AG2R picked up the pace way before the most demanding climb of the day and tried to make the most from a subsequent puncture by Chris Froome (SKY).
Despite seeking for his own pace and later trying to join the Briton's pursuit alongside colleague Mikel Nieve, Quintana, who had team-mate Carlos Betancur inside that group, wasn't either able to follow the pursuit group, and ended up losing nearly 1'30" against the GC group on top of Peyra Taillade. As several teams started to pull at the front, on wide, fast roads with no real descent, and a dangerous move by Dan Martin (QST) surged in the closing stages, the gap for Nairo and Carlos did not stop increasing: 2'50" atop Saint-Vidal, and 3'54" at the finish.
Sunday's result means that Quintana is out of the top-ten in the general classification (11th), 6'16" behind Froome and more than 4' apart from Yates (ORS, 7th), who closes the notional group of candidates for victory in Paris next Sunday. The 'Grande Boucle' will enjoy a final rest day on Monday before resuming on Tuesday.
Nairo Quintana: "It was a very demanding stage and I really felt the wear of the previous ones. Sadly, I'm not really recovering, as I expected to do at this point of the race, and I lost time again today. Your mind always wants to go more than the body does, but when this doesn't want to work, it simply doesn't respond. We must continue to fight in this week remaining. We must look onwards and not surrender. I don't know which our goal will be on the final stages of this race, because our main goal now is to recover.“