Nairo Quintana has said his Movistar team are fortunate to be nearly halfway through the Tour having lost as little time as they have, despite Mikel Landa crashing at an inopportune moment on stage 10 that saw him lose two minutes.
“I’d say we’re almost lucky to reach this far in the Tour having lost arguably the smallest margin in the last few years against our biggest rivals,” said Quintana, who isn’t getting carried away with his chances of ending up on the podium in Paris, sitting just 54 seconds off Geraint Thomas (Ineos) in the overall classification.
“I feel like we’ve got a decent chance,” Quintana continued, “it won’t be easy, yet we’re in good condition and we’ll try to play our cards intelligently to make up time and at the time trial do our best to lose as little time as possible.
“We’re still eleven stages away from Paris, there’s so much left in this race. There are mountain stages which could suit us really well. The work by our team-mates throughout this race has been really, really good, most especially yesterday, when we were all at the front before Mikel’s crash.”
The Colombian believes that Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) won’t be able to hold the yellow jersey until Paris, and the race is once again Ineos’ to lose.
“After the TT we will seek a strategy to try and get back to the top. With all due respect to Alaphilippe as race leader – we don’t really know how far he will go in yellow – the team carrying all the pressure at this moment is Ineos, and we must plan our strategies considering how they will race and tackle the mountain stages.”
Quintana did well to find himself on the right side of a split in the peloton on stage 10, with Ineos riding hard to exploit crosswinds and a number of GC rivals such as Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) caught out and losing time.
Mikel Landa (Movistar) had also found himself on the right side of the split but collided with Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) and ended up being shoved off the course and crashing into roadside spectators.
Despite losing two minutes, a severe knock to his GC ambitions after he had shown good form so far this year with a fourth-place finish at the Giro d’Italia, Landa is lucky to not have suffered any serious injuries.
“I felt in a little bit more of pain when I woke up today but fortunately it’s nothing serious, I’m a bit more down when it comes to morale,” Landa said. “It’s another tough blow, and another year when we have to bounce back after misfortune.
“I obviously started thinking about yesterday’s crash after the stage: why me? Why was it me crashing? I was feeling so strong, the stage had gone so well for us up until that moment, it would actually have been a good chance to close in on our goal in the race – and you crash once again.”
The Spaniard said that as well as continuing to focus on the overall classification, with Quintana now their best bet, Movistar will also plan potential stage wins as Landa may be allowed the room to attack as he is no longer a direct threat to the race lead.
“We’ll have to chase for a stage win and get back into GC contention as soon as possible. I still haven’t digested what happened yesterday, I need some more time to get back into the mood. I haven’t found how to get myself into the race again yet.”
Landa expects that others who lost time, including Pinot and Fuglsang, will launch long-range attacks to try and change their prospects, and that this can provide a sizeable shake-up to the race. He is, however, wary that as further stages tick by teams start to defend top 10 positions rather than aspire to move up the general classification.
“There are still many contenders left in this race. Those currently trailing, such as Fuglsang and Pinot, who are strong attackers, will surely try to go from afar and will play a significant role in the upcoming mountain stages.
“Hopefully, with this time lost I will have a chance to attack and be let go further than others. However, the Tour is always hard in that respect: teams defend basically any position, and as soon as you approach 10th place you get teams interested in retaining these positions, so it’s hard to bounce back.”