Mikel Landa overcomes pile-up with less than 5km from TDF stage four finish with Movistar Team's help, remains within top 20 overall. Valverde, Quintana also inside main bunch.
Another late scare was reserved for the Movistar Team in the late phase of stage four in the 2018 Tour de France -195km from La Baule to Sarzeau, already in Brittany-, even though it was easier to fix this time. A pile-up with five kilometers to go left Andrey Amador, Marc Soler and, most notably, Mikel Landa out of the main field. The Basque, supported by two team-mates, was able to rejoin the group before the sprint, where Fernando Gaviria (QST) notched up his second stage win.
Landa and Alejandro Valverde thus remain 53″ behind race leader Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), with Nairo Quintana still at 2’08”. The three will have two difficult tests to overcome again in the upcoming ‘Breton’ hilly routes, on Wednesday and Thursday. Stage five -204.5km between Lorient and Quimper- will feature five rated ascents and countless little climbs before a slightly uphill finish, prelude to the following day’s grueling Mûr-de-Bretagne.
Mikel Landa: “It was just a touch of wheels – I didn’t crash but had to take a foot off the pedals and get back up to racing speed. Luckily, I had some team-mates with me and we could get through this with no time loss. There’s no calm stages in such a race – you’ve got to overcome difficulties like this, it’s part of the event. The gaps we had yesterday remain the same and that makes me happy. Let’s continue to focus on one stage at a time, and see how we’re doing after Sunday (smiles).”
Alejandro Valverde: “It’s happened the very same thing as in previous days: lots of tension, speed and crashes. I think we pretty much went unscathed, as no one from the team crashed into that final pile-up. That’s what it’s all about in this first week: just surviving and overcoming any issues, step by step.”
Nairo Quintana: “I was able to stay away from that crash in the finale; sadly, it affected some of our team-mates, including Mikel, but it was nothing serious in the end, he finished inside the peloton and was safe through. We knew this first week would be like this – we just have to carry on and stay away from trouble.”
Picture (c): Luca Bettini / BettiniPhoto.net