Tour de France (st. 7)
Longest stage in the race brings late scare -solved without major troubles- for Nairo Quintana and Dylan Groenewegen’s (TJV) winning sprint in Chalon-sur-Saône. Saturday’s stage to feature seven rated climbs en route to Saint-Étienne.
No crashes, no major setbacks, and a full roster with great motivation after the first third of the 2019 Tour de France. The Movistar Team covered peacefully Friday’s stage seven -the longest of the race, over 230km from Belfort to Chalon-sur-Saône-, down to a bunch sprint won by Dylan Groenewegen (TJV) – after a 45′ delay from the intermediate schedule, due to headwinds and a small-sized breakaway always kept under control by the peloton.
The Telefónica-backed squad only had to regret a small scare as Nairo Quintana got dropped with 30km to go, following the intermediate sprint. Four team-mates came to the tail of the group to bring the Colombian quickly back into the field, Landa, Valverde and Erviti finishing with Nairo inside the bunch.
Eusebio Unzué’s squad will enter the Massif Central on Saturday, with a tough stage eight towards Saint-Étienne that features seven rated ascents -the final one, La Jaillère (Cat-3), 13km before the end- and lots of small hills in 200km perfect for a break – or even from a GC rider’s attack.
Nairo Quintana: “It was my fault when I got dropped near the finish. I had a quick stop for a leak and we got back racing quickly, yet the group started to pick up the pace after the intermediate sprint and the jury got the car convoy out of our way, which made harder to bridge back. Fortunately, the team was down there to support me, we didn’t experience any major problems to return and the incident remains a mere anecdote. Let’s move on, look foward and tackle the dangerous stages ahead with the best commitment and attention this weekend. Lots of climbs, twists and turns where it will be difficult to always remain into a good position, but our condition is good and the team is working really week these past few days.”
Mikel Landa: “Another difficult day for us over, and now we think about the Massif Central. Things can always change in stages like the two this weekend; I think the race contenders will be saving some energy for the Pyrenees, but anything can happen. Obviously, in the last few hours I’ve been thinking about my performance yesterday -what would have happened should I have adopted a different attitude-, but to be honest, it was already hard to create significant gaps in such a finish, and the good conclusion from yesterday is that I’m strong at the moment. Let’s see what the weekend brings.”
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto