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"Sky managed to control all of them, both our attacks and the ones from Alberto, Vincenzo... they dominated the situation pretty well and have shown that they are strong, both Froome and his team-mates."

Photo: Sirotti










16.07.2015 @ 21:09 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Down to eight riders after the abandonment of Alex Dowsett, whose some stomach problems from last night put "the final nail in the coffin" to a suffering for more than a week caused by wounds and injuries from his crash on stage four, the Movistar Team did not lose courage and willingness to turn things around in the final Tour de France stage in the Pyrenees this year.


The 195km journey from Lannemezan to Plateau de Beille (HC), including the previous ascents of Portet d'Aspet (Cat-2), la Core (Cat-1) and Lers (Cat-1) that were tackled with no big moves - a 22-man move dominating the scene - culminated when the big favourites started to attack race leader Chris Froome (SKY) in the second half of the decisive climb. While Gorka Izagirre, riding at the front almost from the very start, took his heart out so as to lose as little terrain as possible compared to the strongest riders into the break, closing the stage in a notable 4th place - around 4'30" behind winner Joaquim Rodríguez (KAT) - the telephone squad went on the attack with its two GC references after protecting work by Anacona, Castroviejo, Herrada, Erviti and Malori in the approach.


Two moves by Alejandro Valverde with 7km remaining anticipated the first attack by Nairo Quintana in this year's 'Grande Boucle', both able to distance Porte (SKY) from the leading train and force team-mate Geraint Thomas to go after almost half a dozen attacks from the Blues, which the GC leader himself had to follow later on. Eventually, Valverde led the favourites' group home in 9th spot - with Nairo Quintana in 11th - which keeps both in 3rd and 4th overall - the Colombian still in the lead of the young riders' competition - and caused a significant move as Movistar jumps into the lead of the teams' classification in the Tour de France, with just over five minutes on the Sky team.


The Tour convoy now faces a series of four stages that will take it into the Alps following the second rest day; the first one, the 13th in the race programme, will finish in Rodez after 199km with several small climbs in the finale, most notably the non-rated La Primaube just 10k from the end.


"It was a good work from everyone in the team," Quintana said. "A difficult day, with really demanding climbs and, above all, serious temperature changes and rain in the finale. The rain hasn't helped. It took even more energy from us, but we handled it and attacked the leader several times. Sky managed to control all of them, both our attacks and the ones from Alberto, Vincenzo... they dominated the situation pretty well and have shown that they are strong, both Froome and his team-mates. 


"We've tried. We've attacked but the rival [Chris Froome] defended himself very well. He controlled my attacks, those of Alejandro [Valverde], Alberto [Contador], Vincenzo [Nibali] but we'll try to dethrone him until the last day. I hope to keep this level because I believe good things can happen.


"We'll keep dreaming and trying; there's still a long way to go and everything won't be decided until the final mountain stage. I feel well at the moment, we're as strong as in previous stages; I think my level shouldn't go down in what's left in this Tour, and should I keep it like today, I think we can try some good things until Paris. There's much to cover, we lost some ground already, but there's some good condition we'll use to keep fighting till next Sunday."



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