'Grande Boucle' comes to close
Eusebio Unzué’s squad conquers Tour de France team prize for 5th time after snatching a stage win -Quintana (Col du Portet)-, getting Colombian (10th), Mikel Landa (7th) into individual top-ten finishes in misfortune-marred race.
Welshman Geraint Thomas (SKY) conquered overall honours in the 105th Tour de France after getting safely through the scenic, 116km final stage from Houilles to Paris’ Champs-Élysées. Alexander Kristoff (UAD) took the final sprint win in this year’s race, as the Movistar Team completed the day without any incidents for its seven riders still on course.
The Telefónica-backed squad enjoyed the privilege of standing on the podium once again in the French capital together as winners of the teams’ classification. It’s the fifth time the Abarca Sports organisation conquers the prize, following success in 1991 and 1999 as Banesto and the Movistar Team’s victories in 2015 and 2016 –third triumph in the last four years-. The victory underlines and courage and commitment from the whole group (Amador, Soler, Erviti, Bennati, Rojas -DNF on stage nine-), shining bright over the entire three weeks of racing.
In an individual scope, the Movistar Team was soon out of overall contention and came up short for a podium finish, but did raise its arms victorious in the French grandtour after two years -thanks to Nairo Quintana‘s brilliant climb towards the Col du Portet on the second Pyrenees stage (day 17)-, and finished with three riders within the top 15: Alejandro Valverde (14th), Quintana himself (10th) and Mikel Landa, who secured a double top-ten GC result for the Blues with his 7th place. All three showed enormous fighting spirit and good strategic vision against crashes and physical misfortune, which made the Movistar Team one of the most relevant teams in the race.
OVERVIEW / Eusebio Unzué:
“It’s clear that we can hardly be satisfied about our overall results in the race. Our goal before the start of the Tour was notching up quite better results than those we achieved. However, I hold no doubts about the team’s attitude for the entire three weeks, which was irreproachable. In sport, in a 21-day even like this, there are many external factors -luck, health-, which you could use to oversimplify our overview and which sound like an excuse, yet they are still there. Those were consequential circumstances to our result, troubles which got us far from the objectives we had set on ourselves. We’ve obtained some important merits, too, but not those we would have deserved it things had gone as we planned.
“Even if those individual results don’t reflect the real quality of our riders, I’m really satisfied – on the other hand – with Nairo’s brilliant victory atop the Col du Portet, following immense teamwork, and that success in the team GC, which rewards our consistency. Personally, it’s a prize I like to receive, because it pays back all riders as it allows them stepping together onto the podium of the Champs-Élysées. I’m so proud to have them there, and it’s also good for our sponsors, which worked so hard during the entire race, as well as the rest of the season.
“I think the point was somewhat missed when it comes to that idea of having three leaders. They were, in fact, three riders who could have aimed to overall merits, having won Grand Tours or obtained good results in three-week stageraces, which allowed us playing more strategical cards. But it’s obvious that Alejandro wasn’t aiming at an overall victory, while Nairo and Mikel were hampered by misfortune and crashes. It might haven’t been the reason why they couldn’t achieve the final yellow jersey, but I’m sure it really compromised their result, and they were perfectly capable of getting to a podium if it weren’t for that.
“The Vuelta a España will be our next big goal, together with next Saturday’s Clásica de San Sebastián. Hopefully we’ll have recovered well all riders who are aiming at racing the two Grand Tours, and there, we will focus on achieving the result we weren’t able to obtain here. I can’t thank our supporters enough for their support on the road and around the world. They were sensational – it’s difficult to pay them back for their gratitud, love and respect. They know that this sport never rewards everyone, since there’s only one winner, and I feel like we could have done more for them. However, we’ve got riders who – I’m sure of that – will bring them much more joy in the near future.”