However, before the Frenchmen took over and delivered victory to the packed home crowds lining the road of the 19km climb, it looked like the Spanish were gearing up to animate the race.
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Movistar were the team to put their stamp on stage 14, using their strong squad of climbers to lead the peloton over the first category Col du Soulor and then into the foothills of the Tourmalet.
Marc Soler and Andrey Amador set the pace, as Movistar looked to capitalise on the lack of Ineos red jerseys at the front of the peloton, with the domestiques of the British squad already having been shelled out of the back.
Looking like they were potentially going to set something up for Mikel Landa to try and take the stage win, their highest-placed rider on GC, Nairo Quintana, began to look like he was in trouble.
Quintana was dropped with 10km left to climb, eventually losing 3-24 to the front group of GC contenders. However, the Colombian’s struggle came as a surprise to his team-mates who say he hadn’t told them he wasn’t feeling great.
“Nairo was not at his best,” Valverde said, “but we didn’t know, he didn’t say anything, we should have asked him maybe.”
Quintana agreed, giving up team leadership and saying the Spanish squad will now support Landa and Valverde: “It’s clear that it was not a good day. Surely the fall had something to do with it. We continue with Mikel and Alejandro, we must support them.
“Right now they are in front of me and we have to support them, I was expected to have a pretty good day, but my body has not responded. Mikel was very good but could not stop [the other GC riders] either. Let’s see how my body reacts in the coming days.”
Mikel Landa remains upbeat, though, saying the day had been “very good” despite Quintana’s time loss and admitting his own legs had failed him in the final 5km, even though he had felt good earlier in the stage.
“The sensations I had at the beginning of the stage were not there at the end. We have seen Jumbo-Visma with three riders at the end, Alaphilippe doesn’t give up, Pinot is very good…tomorrow is another important day, I think there will be big gaps.”
Sitting 6-14 behind race leader Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Landa was asked whether he will focus on the GC or stage victories, to which the Spaniard replied: “I would like to try for stages with opportunities where riders who have lost time will be allowed to go up ahead. This race can still take many turns, I’m excited.”