Tour de Francia (et. 8)
Valverde -7th overall-, Landa (11th), Quintana complete flawless final stage before 21km over cobblestones to Roubaix on Sunday, set to decide many things in this year’s Tour.
The Movistar Team got safe through a second consecutive flat stage in the 2018 Tour de France, with day eight in the race –181km from Dreux to Amiens- marking the final hurdle before the cobblestones. Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen (TLJ) claimed his second victory on a row as Alejandro Valverde, Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa finished inside the first 35 in the bunch.
A pile-up with 17km remaining, affecting the likes of Julian Alaphilippe (QST) or Dan Martin (UAD), was the only incident in the finale, with some of the Blues slightly held up by the crash yet no one from Eusebio Unzué’s squad on the ground.
The Telefónica-backed squad will now head towards one of the most decisive days in this year’s ‘Grande Boucle’: 154km from Arras to Roubaix, including 15 ‘secteurs pavé’ for a combined 21km on cobblestones – which should be covered, barring any sudden change, on dry conditions with no strong winds.
Alejandro Valverde: “We got unscathed through the day, with no crashes from our side, and we’re reaching the pavé in very good condition. It will be a ‘crossfingers’ sort of day tomorrow – you need to ride strong and be well positioned, but you also need to be lucky. You’ve got to enter the opening sections near the front and get through them safe and focused, without losing sight of your rivals. It’s not a situation like in a mountain stage, where you can get help from your team-mates and stay sheltered. It’s a completely different kind of fight. It won’t be easy to stay together, yet we’ll have to give it our all and remain close to the leaders.”
Mikel Landa: “There were some nerves with 20km to go, a couple of crashes, but luckily, we got safely through this stage. It was sad to see Martin crashing – even if it’s better for our chances, it’s never good to see a rival losing time because of an incident. Tomorrow’s stage will be crucial; we went on a recon of those sections back in April, and we’ve got a team full of experienced riders on the pavé, who will try to help us out wherever it’s possible for them. We will do our best to get through in one piece and hopefully not losing time.”
Picture (c): BettiniPhoto.net