Tour de France (st. 11)
Colombian bruises right elbow in crash 30km before Toulouse’s finish; Nairo, Mikel Landa inside bunch in eve of four stages key to overall result, with big mountains + a demanding TT on Friday.
Australia’s Caleb Ewan (LTS) notched up Wednesday’s sprint victory in Toulouse at the end of stage 11 in the 2019 Tour de France -167km starting from Albi-. Today’s effort wasn’t at all the extra calm day the peloton planned to enjoy before the big mountains, yet the Movistar Team still was able to keep Valverde, Landa and Nairo Quintana -caught behind a pile-up with 30km to go, a wound to his right elbow as a result- inside the main field.
The Telefónica-backed squad, sporting for the first time this year the yellow Abus helmets as leaders of the Grande Boucle’s teams’ competition, remains with Nairo in 8th overall –2’04” behind Julian Alaphilippe (DQT)- before the trascendental mountain stages in this second week of the race.
The Pyrenees will start with Thursday’s long (209km) stage 12 towards Bagnères-de-Bigorre, climbing the Peyresourde (Cat-1) and the Hourquette d’Ancizan (Cat-1 + Bonus) in the final third of the race. A demanding prelude to the even-more-crucial Friday ITT around Pau, key for the overall result.
Nairo Quintana: “It was a quite nervous finale, with many switchbacks and narrow roads, which led to the inevitable: a crash. You always try to avoid danger in such finishes, and I was able to break a bit before the incident, yet I couldn’t avoid it. I’m OK, and that’s the important thing: the legs are fine, and this shouldn’t be a problem. I’ve got to put some ice over my elbow, the only area bruised at the crash, and it should be good for tomorrow. The team got back together quickly and we could join forces with Richie Porte’s squad to come back and finish safely.
“We enjoyed a nice rest day, recovering and spending some quality time with our family and team, catching some air before the crucial stages of this Tour. Tomorrow we start to face the ‘big exams’ for us, those stages where we have to perform and start making up time. We’ve got Mikel in a good position when it comes to try some different strategies, and he’s physically well, just like Alejandro and the whole squad.”
Mikel Landa: “I’m feeling more upbeat than yesterday. I recovered well during the rest day and don’t feel any particular pains after the crash. I was really down yesterday – you feel like something bad happens again when you’re in good condition – but soon you realize that there’s a lot of terrain left, and we’re now tackling the mountains which should help us turn the tables. It ended up being a more difficult finish than we expected, with some stress near the end. The peloton certainly felt more scared after Monday.
“We will go day-by-day, one would like to just attack and attack and not look back, but you’ve got to measure your efforts, there’s still half the Tour remaining. It’s also a more difficult race than the Giro to go for long-range moves. We’ll see what we can do. There’s a couple of really serious climbs tomorrow. It could be a breakaway, a day for GC attacks or an easier scenario before the TT.”
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto