Team Sky says that the Vuelta a España‘s summit finish on the Col d’Aubisque was one of their hardest Grand Tour stages, but its leader Chris Froome managed to succeed in marking every one of Nairo Quintana’s moves.
The Colombian of team Movistar still leads Froome by 54 seconds despite around five attempts to leave his rival behind. Though in the red jersey, Quintana is concerned about the time trial next Friday.
Movistar made it a hard day. The Spanish super squad put three men in the escape with Daniel Moreno, who began the day 12th overall, and had Quintana launching everything he had in Froome’s direction.
“Today was firstly about losing no time and if the opportunity arose we would try to gain time on Nairo and the other riders,” Sky’s team principal, David Brailsford told ITV Sport. “In the main, we are satisfied really the way the day panned out.
“Probably, It was one of the hardest workload days and a grand tour in a long time. We are still pretty much in it and some tough days are coming up. I don’t think it will stay the same before the time trial, I think something will give either way. And then we’ll see we were ahead of the time trial.”
The day climbed 5200 metres with the four big climbs in the Tour of Spain’s day-visit in France. Sky pulled for most of the day with Movistar having Moreno, José Joaquín Rojas and Ruben Fernandez in the escape. Sky counted on David Lopez in the breakaway.
Moreno, who began the 12th at 5-38 minutes back, became a danger man.
“That was quite a key moment in the race for us especially with Moreno up front and he’s up there in the GC, which meant that we had to do most of the pulling in today’s stage,” Froome explained when he arrived to the team bus.
“We were caught a little bit on the back foot there but the guys did a great job and pulled three quarters of the stage and really just controlled that break at four to five minutes.”
Quintana began firing on the 16.5km Col d’Aubisque, but could not crack Froome’s fortress. Froome responded each of the five times and rode Quintana’s final missile over the line at 1710 metres in the French Pyrenees.
“For me in the final it was more about marking Nairo Quintana and making sure I did not lose any more time to him and to neutralize all of us moves.”