Quintana, Valverde face key ITT in La Vuelta

2 September 2019
Quintana, Valverde face key ITT in La Vuelta

Press conference in Pau

Colombian climber -in race lead after 2nd place in Andorra- and World Champion, now 4th overall at 20″ from Movistar team-mate, both aiming to limit losses against Roglic (TJV) in demanding Pau course on Tuesday.

Nairo Quintana

At least I’m in the lead today! (laughs) We know it’s going to be a really important day tomorrow. Even if we’ve got the red jersey on our hands right now, it’s been and still is anyone’s race at the moment. With the current situation, though, we’re conscious -and we’ve stated that already before- that the virtual leader is Roglic, since he’s going to put time on us at tomorrow’s TT as he’s a real specialist. We’re going to check it out now [the press conference was held before the morning recon – ed.] We’ll try to leave everything on the road tomorrow, and after the TT, together with the team, trying to gain time back into the following mountains.”

We haven’t talked through this yet (with Marc). What we really care about at the moment is the great work the whole team has done all race, and especially yesterday: at the start of the stage, putting riders into the early break, and later on, doing our thing together with the other team-mates. We will keep pushing and work as orderly as possible. A gesture shouldn’t be anything we make a huge fuss about. We must enjoy the results we’ve got so far and look forward to what’s to come.”

A team leader above the other? No. What’s important here is the team as a whole. The strongest one in the end will help the other, and we’ll continue working together. The one who finds better legs or condition near the end will have our full support. We’ve got a strong team and we’ve followed a good line from day one – that makes us remain calm and confident towards the remainder of the race.”

“The Asturias stages and Machucos will be tough, and they come at the end of week two of the race, with everything it means. Together with the two tough stages in Madrid and Ávila on week three, we will have good chances to gain time in the decisive stages of the race.”

Alejandro Valverde

“I’ve had a good night’s sleep and I’m recovered from yesterday’s effort. It was an extreme finish, a tough, dangerous one, under cold weather. You’re almost above the limit, on your highest heartrate… A really complicated day for everyone who was able to finish. We were even lucky it was only like that at the end, and not the whole stage as initially forecast. I don’t know how many would have finished the stage otherwise. It was hard for everyone, and I feel recovered after that effort.”

“Our strategy yesterday was always trying to leave our rivals behind with attacks, not pulling for them. At the final climb Nairo went off the front with Pogacar, then I saw some weakness in ‘Superman’ and tried to bridge, but never bringing him back to Nairo with my move. The first time I tried, I saw him following me and stopped, but later on, I was able to create a gap.”

“We must feel happy about what we’ve got. We’ve got good health, we’ve won two stages, Nairo is in the lead, I’m in fourth place – and there’s still so much left in this Vuelta, a very open race at the moment. It’s not about the team leader being one or the other. It’s about working well together so the Vuelta is won by one of us. We must take those efforts together and try, whether it’s me or him, to reach as far as possible. There’s so many tough stages still remaining, with two strong rivals like Roglic and López we have to beat in order the claim the win.

A contest between us two for the victory? I wish (laughs). If Nairo is first and I’m second, there won’t be any fight. But I don’t think such will be the case. We’ve got tough contenders between us, such as Roglic, who will take advantage of the ITT as it suits him perfectly, and he’s never shown real weakness on the climbs. Then there’s ‘Superman’, who might not have a strong point in his favour at the TT, yet he’s one you must never lose sight of, a dangerous, strong rider.”

“The second week is so tough, but also the Sierra de Madrid will be dangerous. We’ve seen many times how riders in a strong position cracked there. Any stage can be dangerous. We’ve been on our limit for many days now, and anything could happen on weeks two and three.”

All pictures (c): Photo Gomez Sport