Tour de France (st. 16)
Catalan climber present with Amador (15th), Bennati into massive break; Alaphilippe (QST) victorious. Landa, Quintana stay 6th, 8th overall before brutal ‘mini-stage’ up Portet (Wednesday).
The maiden Pyrenean stage of the 2018 Tour de France, no less than 218km from Carcassonne to Bagnères-de-Luchon -with a gentle start and a very tough, final 70km over the cols of Portet-d’Aspet (Cat-2), Menté (Cat-1) and Portillon (Cat-1)-, saw an early neutralisation, thirty kilometers into the race, due to protests cutting the course and tear gas being incomprehensibly sprayed over the riders. After the race was resumed, a brutal fight for the breakaway, which took nearly 100km to form, was followed by a contest restricted to the front group at the Portillon. Julian Alaphilippe (QST) bested Adam Yates (MTS) to take his second stage win in the race, following the Briton’s crash in the final descent, as Gorka Izagirre (TBM) finished 2nd.
The Movistar Team put three of its members -Marc Soler, Andrey Amador and Daniele Bennati- into the 47-man group. The Catalan again showed his character and good legs, yet came short to contest the win at the last climb and ended up in 9th, 1’10” down -with Andrey in 15th-. Bennati, who dropped back at the Aspet and worked alongside Erviti for his team leaders Landa, Quintana and Valverde through the approach to the bottom of the Portillon, saw Mikel attacking on the final slopes of the climb and pushing into the descent. Ultimately, no time gaps were seen between the favourites -Landa stays in 6th overall, with Quintana still 8th and Valverde in 11th place-.
The Telefónica-backed squad’s leaders will now tackle a short, explosive, conceptual stage 17 on Wednesday, overcoming the ascents of Peyragudes (Cat-1), Val Louron (Cat-1) and Portet (HC) in just 65km with barely no flat sections. The race will also feature a brandnew grid start, with the Movistar Team’s three most relevant names all within the two front rows of the peloton.
Marc Soler: “The Tour is completely different when it comes to entering a break. You always ride really fast, it took so long to get the escape established today, and once you’re in, you’re nearly dead, with no energy left. We couldn’t really fight for the stage win, but I think the three team-mates which were into that group worked well, trying to get the team into the move and also help out so we can contest the team GC. At some stages we have to take care of our leaders, and at other ones, we try not to lose too much time so we can help with that other goal. Regarding myself – well, I do everything I can, and won’t stop fighting until Friday.”
Mikel Landa: “I was feeling better with my back today. You never know when a chance can arise, and even if the last climb wasn’t so hard, we wanted to give it a try and anticipate the descent, see how our legs were doing. Team Sky, once again, rode really strong and intelligently. The neutralisation? It really hit me hard, those tear gases – it was hard for me and all leaders, who were sitting at the back of the group in that moment. It was awful. On the other hand, we saw a good side from this sport, with everyone in the peloton helping each other. I had drops put into my eyes by a mechanic from the Lotto squad. We all were friends again for a while (smiles).
“Tomorrow’s stage will be one to manage your efforts wisely. 65km seem like a short stage, but it will be a long effort, staying at your maximum power for a long period of time. We’ll have to keep calm in the beginning, because being too optimistic, you can end up losing lots of time at the finish. We’ll need our team staff’s support and guidance to do well, and speak to every team-mate constantly to do things right. However, I don’t feel like the grid start will really change the approach to this stage. It’s an important day individual-wise, but we’re also seeking for other goals: we’re fighting for the team GC, Nairo and I are currently sitting within the top ten and Alejandro is really close”.
Nairo Quintana: “I had good legs after the rest day, but seeing the pace Sky was setting at the Portillon and no big contenders dropping back with that pace, it was more intelligent to save all energy for tomorrow. I’ve got all hopes set on that stage. I hope to have an awesome day, start off with a bang, like a lion, and do everything I wanted to do before the start of the race. We’ll have to ride very actively from the start – there has to be no rest for anyone. We three will be at the front of the group at the start, and while other teams will have to organise themselves, riders like us have to take advantage from our position and start on full steam.”
- 01 Julian Alaphilippe Quick Step 5h13'22"
- 02 Gorka Izagirre Bahrain-Merida +15"
- 03 Adam Yates Mitchelton-Scott "
- 09 Marc Soler Movistar Team +1'10"
- 15 Andrey Amador Movistar Team +2'31"
- 28 Mikel Landa Movistar Team +8'52"
- 30 Nairo Quintana Movistar Team "
- 34 Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team "
- 90 Imanol Erviti Movistar Team +22'17"
- 91 Daniele Bennati Movistar Team "
- 01 Geraint Thomas Team Sky 68h12'01"
- 02 Chris Froome Team Sky +1'39"
- 03 Tom Dumoulin Team Sunweb +1'50"
- 06 Mikel Landa Movistar Team +3'42"
- 08 Nairo Quintana Movistar Team +4'23"
- 11 Alejandro Valverde Movistar Team +9'36"
- 41 Andrey Amador Movistar Team +1h03'35"
- 67 Marc Soler Movistar Team +1h33'18"
- 82 Imanol Erviti Movistar Team +1h53'57"
- 105 Daniele Bennati Movistar Team +2h15'34"