Quintana (12th), Betancur (18th) take top-20 overall finishes at 'Grande Boucle' as Nairo's suffering, morale blow of Valverde's crash at opening TT mar Blues' chances
Briton Chris Froome (SKY) sealed his victory in the 104th Tour de France in Paris on Sunday at the end of the 102km closing stage from Montgeron to the Champs-Élysées, where Dylan Groenewegen (TLJ) came victorious at the final sprint as Daniele Bennati took 10th. The arrival to the classic, finishing circuit marked the end to a very difficult race for the Movistar Team, the Blues taking Nairo Quintana (12th) and Carlos Betancur (18th) to the line as best performers of an eight-man group, down from nine at the start, which spent all of its energy and courage into the grueling three weeks of racing.
The telephone squad's chances to shine at the 'Grande Boucle' were seriously hurt by the crash – with only 7km completed – by Alejandro Valverde at Düsseldorf's TT. Without one of their main references on course, the Blues were devoted even more to supporting Quintana 100%. However, Nairo's suffering, made evident at both Jura, Pyrenees and Alps, prevented the Colombian from seeking overall success and extending a streak of consecutive podium finishes at Grand Tours -3rd in the 2016 TDF, winner of last year's Vuelta, runner-up in the 2017 Giro- which only Eddy Merckx (1972-73), Bernard Hinault (1982-83) and Carlos Sastre (2008-09) have equalled in cycling history.
Valverde's bad luck and Quintana's suffering – the Colombian still the closest (2nd at Foix, st. 13) to a stage win for the Movistar Team in this year's race – also puts an end to 12 Grand Tours on a row (since the 2013 TDF, with Nairo also at the fore) where the Movistar Team had finished with at least one rider within the best four in the overall general classification.
All things considered, and along with Quintana's tenacity, the Blues offered many positive notes. The commitment by Erviti and Castroviejo; the workload and seniority by Bennati, who sought three times for a stage win on week three (4th at Salon-de-Provence on Friday); the notable work by the two debutants –Sütterlin, strong on the flat, and Betancur, always close to Quintana in the mountains-; and the class by Amador and Herrada, who were able to bounce back from respective crashes, make it to Paris and help their team leader as much as possible.