Tour de France (st. 10)
Basque climber from Movistar Team down after swerving in the peloton with 19km left on TDF stage two, concedes significant margin in the overall standings before the first rest day + the Pyrenees. Quintana, Valverde inside the first group
An unfortunate incident just under twenty kilometers before the end of stage 10 in the 2019 Tour de France, Saint-Flour to Albi (217km), ruined most chances for Mikel Landa (Movistar Team) to tackle the key mountains in the ‘Grande Boucle’ in a good place overall.
As the Blues rode with six riders -the whole Blue outfit, except for Marc Soler and Carlos Verona, following their efforts in previous days- into a 40-man peloton formed into a series of echelons due to crosswinds, Landa touched with another rider, losing control of his bike as it went to the side of the race and crashing.
Quickly helped out by Imanol Erviti and Nelson Oliveira, who dropped back from the lead, as well as Soler and, in the final kilometers, Andrey Amador, Mikel -who only sustained minor blows and abrasions- limited the losses the best he could against a fast-paced first peloton, where Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde always remained in.
2’09” was Landa’s time loss at the finish, now more than four minutes behind Julian Alaphilippe (DQT) in the GC, as Nairo Quintana climbs onto eighth overall, 1’12” behind the Frenchman. The Movistar Team, part of today’s podium presentation as a bittersweet leader of the team GC following the first ten stages, will enjoy a well-deserved first ‘repos’ on Tuesday.
Mikel Landa: “It was a ‘shock’. At one moment I was on my bike, and at the very next one I was on the ground, surrounded by spectators. Fortunately, I have no injuries. I was able to continue in one piece, and my team-mates really helped me a lot in a difficult situation. It’s ‘just’ a time loss – and the goal we came here for further away.”
Nairo Quintana: “When Mikel suffered that incident, the whole team stopped to support him while the two of us, Alejandro and myself, remained ahead to protect my position. We couldn’t really do much after that – just not to lose time ourselves. I finished OK, recovering some time against many contenders we were behind at today’s start. I’m gaining places in the GC, and just hope that my body and legs will respond well after the rest day.”
Alejandro Valverde: “It was awful to hear of Mikel’s crash. I didn’t see it. It was all going really well: we had got through the echelons in a perfect position, with pretty much everyone at the front, and at a certain point, we heard on the earpiece: ‘Crash Landa, crash Landa’. It was such a nervous stage, almost from the neutralized start, actually. Let’s hope those blows don’t hamper his performance. We will continue to fight with him and Nairo, who finished with me, to finish as high as possible in the GC.”
Imanol Erviti: “Once Mikel crashed, we tried, on the one hand, to keep Nairo at the front with Alejandro, for Bala to stay with him in case he had any incidents, and on the other, get some tiem back with Mikel. There wasn’t much history after that, neither time to bridge back nor time to think about anything, just pushing. Fortunately, Mikel only has minor bruises. More than anything, it’s sadness, pain, fury about losing that time.”
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto