Tour de France (st. 10)
Movistar leads team GC as Valverde -3rd overall-, Landa (8th), Quintana get through Romme, La Colombière inside reduced GC group led by Sky. Alaphilippe (QST) wins in Le Grand-Bornand from early break, including yellow jersey Van Avermaet (BMC).
The Movistar Team’s three leaders rode fine through the first mountain test in the 2018 Tour de France, a demanding stage ten in the Alps -158km between Annecy and Le Grand-Bornand- with five categorized climbs that included the Plateau des Glières (HC) and a final chain of cols in Romme and La Colombière (both Cat-1). Julian Alaphilippe (QST) won from a big, early breakaway -21 members- which also featured race leader Greg Van Avermaet (BMC).
Nairo Quintana, Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde, the latter with some uncomfortable mechanical problems near the top of the final ascent, got through yet another selection of favourites inside the GC group, which allows ‘Bala’ climbing onto 3rd place overall, behind Van Avermaet and Geraint Thomas (SKY), while Mikel now sits in 8th. Quintana is 16th, making possible for the Blues to now lead the team GC with half the race to go.
The squad managed by Eusebio Unzué will have another difficult day on Wednesday, an explosive route – 108km from Albertville to La Rosière (Cat-1) – including the passages through Bisanne (HC), Pré (HC) and the Cormet de Roselend (Cat-2).
Alejandro Valverde: “Sky set quite a fast pace, and the stage ended up being really hard. Things went pretty much under control for us, always the three of us inside the GC group. At the final kilometer of La Colombière, I experienced some problems with my gearing, the chain got stuck and I had to get it back on its place to bridge back to the group. It’s a series of three difficult days in the Alps and tomorrow’s stage, so short and intense, could see big fireworks or nothing at all – we’ll see what we can do.”
Mikel Landa: “After the Roubaix stage and the rest day, and coming from a crash on Sunday, I think the wisest thing for me was not to risk everything and just get through the day. My back hurt a bit at the end of the stage, but I think it’s just normal after such a blow; my legs feel good. Sky set a very hard pace, probably trying to defend their position, and I think no one really was willing to burn themselves by launching a real attack in such a situation. Tomorrow’s stage should suit our conditions better, since it’s one where it’s difficult to keep such a strong block together, and could be good for us three. It will be already a difficult stage, with some moves from the first climb, so we’ll see how we can manage our efforts over the route.”
Nairo Quintana: “I think we all three felt well. The body always tends to react in strange ways after such a difficult stage like the pavé one – which, combined with a rest day, makes things hard to predict. Many people struggle in those situations, and some people paid, as we all could see. Fortunately, it wasn’t a problem for us; we did well during the day. With three demanding, consecutive efforts in the Alps, anything can happen – these are massive elevations, and we have to look for the right moment to make our move, analysing our rivals, seeing how the race goes and what we can do. Let’s hope we have a chance in these two days.”