Tour de France (st. 9)
Catalan allrounder from Movistar Team shows courage and talent: bridges back alone to 14-man move a minute and a half ahead, fights until very end for success behind day’s winner Impey (MTS). No changes in GC.
Marc Soler spent all energy he had in bringing the Movistar Team a stage victory in the 2019 Tour de France on day nine of the race, another route through the Massif Central over 170km and three rated climbs from Saint-Étienne to Brioude.
The Catlaan had to make a huge effort to reach back an original 14-man move which rode almost two minutes ahead of him, reaching the tail of the group just before the top of the Mur d’Aurec-sur-Loire (Cat-1). Once in the winning break -nearly seventeen minutes ahead of the bunch over the finish line-, Soler was intelligent and focused, following the moves in pursuit of Lukas Pöstlberger (BOH), the first man on the move from the break, yet struggled later on at the decisive climb of Saint-Just (Cat-3), dropped back to the second group on the road.
A 7th place was the final result for Marc, 20″ behind Daryl Impey (MTS), who resisted the accelerations of Tiesj Benoot (LTS) and won the two-man sprint. The ‘Grande Boucle’, which sees Quintana and Landa remain in 14th and 15th overall after stage nine, will hold the final stage of its first ‘block’ (day 10) towards Albi (217km), before Tuesday’s first ‘repos’.
Marc Soler: “It was a tough, tough finish. At the bus meeting this morning it was already planned I had to go into the breakaway. In the end, it caught me a bit off balance, because I had been into several other moves but the breakaway went shortly after the last one, and had to make a huge effort to enter the group into the first climb. I was a bit ‘dead’ after that, and I paid it at the last climb. There were some strong winds during the stage, it was also a nervous breakaway with many attacks before Saint Just, and all of that mattered in the end. Still, I’m really happy with this result. Of course I’d have liked to be closer to victory, yet this result, after all the efforts today, leaves me satisfied.”
Mikel Landa: “Yesterday’s stage was one when I really felt the leg pain from the Giro, it was such a tough one. Things were quite more calm today. The Pyrenees? Still too far away. Let’s get over Monday’s stage first, rest up a bit on Tuesday and then tackle what will surely be an interesting second week. Now it’s time to measure our efforts better, since we’re approaching the second half of the race. We must think about where we should attack – you can’t go always on the attack just because you like to keep that style. You’ve got to keep benefit above enjoyment at some point”.
Alejandro Valverde: “It was a quite more relaxed day, and I really thank the peloton for that, because it’s sometimes needed when you go through such a tough one as yesterday’s. There was a big break, where we fortunately put Marc, and not many serious attempts after that. Winning stages in the second half of the Tour? It’s not an obsession for me. Should I have a chance, of course I’ll fight for it, yet it’s not my task in this TDF: my goal is helping out both Mikel and Nairo. Let’s get over tomorrow’s stage with no incidents, then the mountains will loom.”
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto