2018 Tour de France
Quotes from Mikel Landa, Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde and Andrey Amador during their final rest day conference in Narbonne.
Mikel Landa: “I felt some improvements with my back pain yesterday – it wasn’t hurting as hard as it did in previous days. I’m optimistic with that injury. When it comes to my legs – well, the second week had been the one I felt the strongest in 2017, but I didn’t feel so strong this year, and considering my preparations for this Tour, I’m hopeful this third, final week of the 2018 Tour is the best suited for me.
“Our ambition remains to keep making Team Sky suffer, put them into difficulty – while not forgetting we’re still in sixth and eighth overall, with strong contenders ahead of us, like Roglic or Dumoulin, who should also go for their share of inflicting pain on them. Sky is one man down, an important one as Moscon, who did a great job for them in both the flat and the mountains, so their team should have bigger weakness there.
“Of course we’ll keep on trying. As Nairo explained -Ed: during that very same press conference-, last week we weren’t able to beat them, we weren’t close, but this is a three-week stagerace, and historically, the third week was the one where we did better. We’re hopeful about that again this year.
“Wednesday’s short stage will be quite different, one which everyone wants to do well at and attack, especially those like us who are way down overall and want to try something. On the other hand, Friday’s stage will be tackled with three long weeks on our legs, and probably, those specialists wanting to put more time on us at the ITT will try to save some energy. I don’t think anyone can predict well how the GC will look like at the end of the final week.
“So far it’s been so calm between Thomas and Froome, but it’s obvious that both are very ambitious. For ‘G’, a success here would be accomplishing the dream many riders like him have, which is winning the Tour, while Froome would be winning his fifth Tour and writing his name in history. Sooner or later, the egos and ambitions of them two will show up.”
Nairo Quintana: “We had worked so hard for this Tour, but the week we’ve just completed wasn’t anywhere near the best we had hoped for. We went through so many difficulties. Still, we remain convinced we can do well in the remainder of the race. We’ve got to fight and we hope things can go well for us in the stages still remaining.
“Our biggest strength is believing in our past. Our history in the Tour de France says that we tend to do better on week three. We’ve got to wait for our moment and also seek for some weakness on our rivals, which have been – to be honest – really hard to beat so far. We hope to have the might and also the intelligence to play our cards well, find some good strategy with our team directors, make Sky suffer and then go for our goals in this race.
“Actually, at some from our previous Tours we were even further back than today at this point of the race, so anything could still happen. We remain certain that something could is still to come for us – if we find the legs, we’ll do our best to take advantage. One can keep some numbers on his hard on the time lost, at which places you can gain – but the only thing that is important is having a good day and profiting from it, without thinking about numbers, come what may.
“We’ve got three demanding stages ahead of us, especially that short, 65km route on Wednesday, over roads that we know well and we’re convinced can suit our style of racing. At the end there will be a time trial, over a terrain which shouldn’t be too bad for us, even if it’s not a real advantage.”
Alejandro Valverde: “We’ve tried to attack from afar these past few days, trying to derail the Sky train, but everyone has seen they’re by far the best squad. However, we’re now entering the third week of racing, they’ve spent lots of energy working hard and suffering at the front of the bunch, and – even if we don’t like seeing things like that happening – they’re now one man down without Moscon, so there’s one less piece to work.
“With routes like the 65km one on Wednesday, and squads which will tend to be less organised and more tired, it will be down to the top contenders to fight against each other. I think the Pyrenees climbs should be better for us, and we also use to do better on the final week of the Grand Tours. We won’t settle. We’re realistic and know that it will be hard to accomplish our goals, considering the current time gaps and our rivals’ strength, but it isn’t over till we reach Paris.
“Our aim is to try and isolate the Sky leaders, though we know we’ll need help from other squads, which is something we’re not finding right know. Sunweb are ‘lucky’ enough to be riding on others’ wheels, staying close to their rivals and then get some seconds and bonuses via second or third places. Then there’s Lotto-Jumbo, who other than Kruijswijk’s exhibition, has gone with a similar approach, with no real team tactics to try and break the race apart. We’d like to have some help from them, as well as other squads, to make Sky suffer. We’ve talked with them at some points of the race, but it’s hard to convince them, because everyone is seeking for their own interest and the strategy they’re developing so far seems to work for them.”
“I feel well. Even though we like to whine and complain and put on bad faces (laughs), and knowing that Saturday’s stage wasn’t the best one for me legs-wise, there’s still one important week to go, I’ve got good legs and will do everything I can for my team. My role in this Tour always was to stay near my team leaders, help them out wherever possible and seek for a good result with them. I feel like I can still reach my best form in the upcoming week and carry some good supporting duties for the team.”