Quintana, Landa, Valverde, Unzué speak at 2019 TDF Grand Départ

4 July 2019
Quintana, Landa, Valverde, Unzué speak at 2019 TDF Grand Départ

Press conference in Brussels

Movistar Team’s three most significant names + general manager hold press conference before start of the ‘Grande Boucle’.

Nairo Quintana

Alps routes inspection: “It was a two-day effort, after the Dauphiné, a quite intense one. We went to check those routes we needed to know, some climbs which I hadn’t climbed before, ones that could be decisive for the overall result.”

Main contenders: “There’s INEOS, with Thomas and Bernal. We’ve also seen the Astana riders really strong all season, Fuglsang was arguably the strongest candidate leading up to the race. Plus, there’s some riders who have always fared well at Grand Tours and will again do so this year, such as Richie Porte, Yates…”.

Concerns: “There’s nothing which worries me in particular. As in every Tour de France, there’s the stress inherent to every Grand Départ – you’re raring to do, you just want to get on your bike and take the start.”

Abundance of high-altitude climbs in this year’s Tour: “It’s true that I was born and always lived in high altitude, but you’ve got to keep in mind that every single Tour de France contender also gets ready for such climbs during their training blocks. They know those situations and prepare accordingly. It shouldn’t be a major problem for them.”

Team: “I’m quite happy about the group we’re bringing to this race. The team-mates around me are strong in all terrains. We’ve worked well throughout the season. I just hope we find some good luck to perform at our best without any external setbacks.”

An all-Colombian podium in Paris: “It’s too optimistic to think about that beforehand, yet Egan, Rigoberto and myself are here – anything could happen.”

Mikel Landa

Alps routes inspection: “It’s been a quite fruitful two days. We checked the three Alps stages and also spent some time riding together, which we hadn’t been able to for long since the start of the season.”

No racing after the Giro: I’m not worried about that, I’m fine – I finished the Giro in good condition, I recovered quite easily from those efforts, trained well and, even if the early stages will be a little bit harder for me, it’s not really that much of a concern.”

Blues’ overall strength against rivals’ absences: “I wouldn’t dare saying we’re the strongest block in this race, yet I do consider we’re a really consistent group, a strong roster. We’ve got a good group of guys for the mountains, some strong riders for the flatter courses… I think we’re close to the strongest.”

Froome’s injury and INEOS’ approach: “We’ll see how Thomas and Bernal do. Should they feel as strong as Froome did in the past few years, we could well have a race scenario like those, with a team strongly taking command. Should they be less strong, it could be a more ambitious, open race for the other contenders.”

Alejandro Valverde

Team and initial expectations: “We always try to get to the Tour in the best possible condition and bring the strongest team-mates, yet I think it’s really been the case this time, with a fantastic group of riders and a good atmosphere. We always talk like that in the pre-race press conference, yet I’m hopeful we have a stronger chance here. Mikel completed a really good Giro and is in great form, Nairo worked hard all season for this Tour and is fit and excited about this really open race, with finishes above 2000m which should suit him well… and in my case, I feel good, I’ve got some victories under my belt this season which give me confidence, and all other team-mates are fine. We’ve got consistent riders for the flat stages which, at the same time, can do well at the toughest mountains. We’ve done well so far this season, and having won the Giro makes us all more relaxed, having less pressure on our shoulders. We’re excited to get this race started.”

Skinnier than ever: “I’ve lost some weight and everyone is making a fuss about it – I might as well start eating more to keep them calm! (laughs) Jokes aside, I had planned to lose a bit of weight after the spring and see how my body reacted. In fact, I’ve got no pressure about this race; my goal here is to support our leaders, Nairo and Mikel. Let’s see how we do with this form I’ve got. My races in June went really well, I’m even at better form than two weeks ago, and so I hope to do my best in the Tour and help my team-mates out.”

Ambitious in the 2019 TDF: “They two, Mikel and Nairo, are the team leaders, and they deserve to have the strongest team possible around. As well myself as our team-mates are coming here with an aim of making them feel as confident as possible. One always has ambitions, yet one of them – you can be sure about that – is not wearing the yellow jersey. I come here with a completely different mindset. We’re all excited about this race, and in my case, there’s no doubt: I’ll give my 100% for Mikel and Nairo.”

The value of his experience: “If, at some point of the race, I think there’s something which we can do better differently, I’ll tell them, yet both are experienced enough to do what’s right at every moment. Nairo already knows how to do well in this race, and the same goes for Mikel. Wherever I can, I’ll help them out, and they know that. Plus, our sports directors are quite expert, and the race is easier to analyze from the team car than on the bike, so their vision is also key for us.”

Eusebio Unzué

How many leaders this team has: “According to his current form and his history in the race, Nairo is undoubtedly a leader for this team. He’s spent his whole sporting career on the podiums of the Grand Tours. On the other hand, Mikel has also stepped onto the podium of the GTs, come close to them in many occassions, and his form makes us feel he’s also a good chance for us. We all know how cycling works, and having a chance of bringing two different GC chances to a Grand Tour gives us better opportunities.”

Goals: “We’re ambitious. We’ve won this race seven times, and we’re coming into this Tour with a chance of claiming another victory, even if it’s incredibly hard. It’s going to be a quite different Tour: with Froome missing, it’s like a flock of sheep without its shepherd. It’s a quite more open Tour, and except for Thomas, basically every major contender would be winning it for the first time. It’s an exciting race, a different, interesting one.”

The team time trial: “We cannot think about winning it, we must be realistic. We’re not a roster specialised in TTTs. We’ll just try to do our best possible time trial and lose as little time as possible. I hope we can restrict that time loss to a reasonable margin and get through the day safely. I’d like the gap not go over half a minute.”