The exhausting first week of the 2013 Tour de France is over at last for the Movistar Team, after stage seven -206km from Montpellier to Albi, with four rated climbs-, long and hard due to heat and huge pace into the last hundred kilometers. The Col de La Croix des Mounis (Cat-2) saw a first peloton of just 90 riders staying together, with Cannondale in a furious chase afterwards, while some of the sprinters were left behind and unsuccessfully tried to bridge back.
Movistar Team took five riders into the main field: Costa, Valverde, Amador, Plaza and Quintana. The latter two were involved into a crash at 10km, causing the Spaniard some rubbing in his right calf while the Colombian suffered another blow in his knee -the right one, in this case-. The bunch ended up chasing down the three riders which escaped after the intermediate sprint -Bakelants (RLT), Oroz (EUS) and Gautier (EUC)- with just over 2k from the finish, and set up the sprint, ultimately won by Peter Sagan (CAN).
All Movistar Team leaders will start the two long-awaited Pyrenees stages just 25 seconds behind race leader Daryl Impey (OGE). The first round comes tomorrow, with 195km between Givors and the ski resort of Ax 3 Domaines (Cat-1) after climbing past the infamous Col de Pailhères, just 29k from the end.
TDF PYRENEAN STAGES DATA
Stage 8 (Saturday, July 6) > Castres – Ax 3 Domaines, 195km
26.5km – Côte de Saint-Ferréol (Cat-4) – 2.2km / 5.4%
166km – Col de Pailhères (HC) – 15.3km / 8%
193’5km – Ax 3 Domaines (Car-1) – 7.8km / 8.2%
Stage 9 (Sunday, July 7) > Saint-Girons – Bagnères-de-Bigorre, 168.5km
28.5km – Col de Portet d’Aspet (Cat-2) – 5.4km / 6.9%
44km – Col de Menté (Cat-1) – 7km / 7.7%
90km – Col de Peyresourde (Cat-1) – 13.2km / 7.7%
110.5km – Col de Val Louron Azet (Cat-1) – 7.4km / 8.3%
138km – Hourquette d’Ancizan (Cat-1) – 9.9km / 7.5%
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde: “The day was harder than expected due to the acceleration by Cannondale with 100km remaining. We rode on full steam until the very end, and it was hard also because of the heat. Still I’m happy to get through another day. As I always stated, it was a matter of getting through any troubles before the Pyrenees – we were able to reach them with the same time of the main favourites and that’s good.
“The crucial point of the race starts tomorrow – the first mountain stage is always a bit different, with all the favourites a bit scared about showing their real strengths. The last three days were really intense, too; it might pay off tomorrow. It seems like it will be a hot day again and Pailhères is already a really hard climb – it might well become a pressure cooker. If we tackle it in high speed, it will be horrible. Sunday’s stage is full of ups and downs, with really tough climbs. After so many days at 100%, if might be a truly demanding one. Heat may be crucial, because it makes your body squeeze quite more.
“I’m super happy with my team until this point – they were sensational, from the first to the last one. It’s been many, many years since we rode this attentive, and despite some crashes from Nairo or Rui with no big consequences, we avoided any troubles. I cross my fingers: I escaped from any incidents so far and come into the mountains in perfect condition. Let’s see how my body reacts after these efforts – we will try to be up-front tomorrow.”
Photo: Movistar Team.