After two weeks of relentless fighting towards a victory always hiding to them, the Movistar Team left their sign at last in the 2013 Tour de France thanks to the man who opened up the telephone squad’s victory account in the Grande Boucle. Rui Costa achieved in Gap his second success in the French grandtour and takes the Blues’ impressive, consecutive tally of GT stage wins to 8 (3 Giros, 3 Tours, 2 Vueltas).
Costa notched up victory on the 16th day of the race, a 168-kilometer trek starting at Vaison-la-Romaine with three rated climbs, including the Col de Manse (Cat. 2) just 11k from the finish. The Iberian was part of a 26-rider escape formed after a hectic first hour of racing, with José Joaquín Rojas and Alejandro Valverde into earlier breaks. Rui kept himself calm into the opening slopes of the final climb after the moves from Marino (SOJ), Kadri (ALM) and Coppel (COF), and launched an acceleration with 7k from the summit. The gaps between the Portuguese rider from Movistar Team increased fast as Costa crested with 45 seconds, while the offensive tactics from Katusha into the bunch left the favourites’ group in just eight units, with Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde always in good position.
Costa covered the dangerous descent of Manse without any complications and raised his arms in fury at the finish to claim Movistar Team’s 24th success in 2013, and his 18th in seven years as pro rider. Behind, the Quintana group broke a minute clear of a second echelon including Laurens Ten Dam (BEL), Nairo overtaking him in the overall for 5th -5.47 behind Chris Froome (SKY)- and increasing his lead in the Young Riders’ classification to almost four minutes. Wednesday will bring an important, 32km time trial with two Cat-2 climbs, Puy-Sanières and Reallon.
REACTION / Rui Costa: “Yesterday, I was already thinking of entering the breaks one of these days. I know today was a good day for me, with those two climbs in the beginning to respond the moves with strength rather than relying on good luck. My legs felt well all day – I knew it had to be my day. It was hard to get the break going, with lots of riders trying to stay at front… there was a moment when I didn’t really know who was in, but in the end, some of the riders that were going with me, including Alejandro and Rojas, dropped as we were able to stick at last.
“I really knew the place to move was the last climb. Everything went as I planned: jumping into the uphill and reaching the top with a gap. I came to the summit with 40 seconds and even had time to enjoy as I rode through the final kilometer. Things couldn’t have been better. After the descent, 3k from the finish, I already knew I was going to win. The final kilometer was really beautiful, with such big crowds in both sides. It’s something I will remember for the rest of my life.
“Winning a stage in the Tour is really difficult, but winning two… I have no words for that. I also fought for this last year, but this race is the hardest to obtain even a minor success. Being able to snatch a win again is a relief for me. Since I had to help Alejandro and dropped on stage 13, I forgot my GC chances and focused on winning a stage. It’s dedicated to all people that supports me – two days ago, I got to know I was the Tour rider with the most supportive messages form the fans, and this is all for them.”