Tour de France (st. 20)
Soler’s repeated attacks, final move from Alejandro & Mikel come just short to give Movistar Team its second success in the 2019 TDF; Landa set for 6th place overall in Paris tomorrow.
The Movistar Team ended up on Saturday on the verge of adding a second stage victory in the 2019 Tour de France to its success on Thursday. The explosive, grueling penultimate stage of the race, 59.5 kilometers from Albertville to the top of the Val Thorens ascent -33 kilometers + nearly 2,000 metres of vertical gain-.
The Telefónica-backed squad even had seven of its members into the 30-strong group halfway through the climb, in pursuit of an early break which contained Nelson Oliveira. The repeated attacks from Marc Soler into the second half of the climb contributed to shrink the gaps and even give the Catalan himself a chance to win. However, the Blue youngster was brought back to the field -Jumbo-Visma and Bora-Hansgrohe pushing hard for a big portion of the climb- as the group reached the final slopes with over half a minute in arrears of Vincenzo Nibali (TBM). The last-minute moves from Alejandro Valverde (2nd in the stage) and Mikel Landa (3rd) weren’t enough to make up that terrain.
Landa will finish, barring any incident, in 6th place overall as Egan Bernal (INS) is crowned tomorrow as the first ever Colombian winner of the ‘Grande Boucle’, ahead of team-mate Geraint Thomas (INS) and Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk (TJV). Paris will again receive, with its eight laps in the Champs-Élysées, the ‘survivors’ of the 106th Tour.
REACTION / Mikel Landa:
“Such a bad feeling in the end. We all know how talented Nibali is – when he’s into a break, it’s difficult to bring him back. Alejandro and I were really strong coming into that final slope, and it was sad not being able to claim that victory. However, the thing is this climb was ‘suffocating’, to put it in one word, really difficult. None of us were able to find the legs we wanted, no one felt really good, and it was difficult to leave the ‘train’ when we were mostly riding at nearly 30 kph at most sections. It was difficult to make a move before the closing stages. Such a fast climb. As soon as I saw we were entering that final slope with such speed and then stopping after the turn, I made my attack, because I was once able to see Nibali ahead. However, as I looked to my side and saw the 400m banner, I knew it would be hard to keep that pace until the end.
“This Tour has made me learn much. I came here aiming for a podium, the crash took me out of contention for that, and it was tough to carry on. Fortunately, I enjoyed this sport again in the Pyrenees, attacking, doing as I pleased. I struggled a lot and learnt lessons that will surely help me a lot next year.”
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto