After yesterday’s presentation of the route for the 2014 Tour de France, the Movistar Team is fearing a nervous first week, with the cobbled sections on stage 5 adding an extra element of danger for riders unfamiliar with the terrain.
“I witnessed first hand this year how nervous it can be,” Nairo Quintana said. “Next year the first week can become really nervous. The cobbles could make the race dangerous and difficult,” the number two and polka dot winner of this year’s event said.
Movistar Team has two aces for the overall classification with Quintana and Alejandro Valverde. Team manager Eusebio Unzué is keeping all options open. "I really don’t know if this Tour de France suits us more or less. My first impression is that the parcours might suit both Nairo and Alejandro. It’s possible they both will be at the start but nothing’s defined yet.”
Valverde finished third in this year’s Vuelta and ended on the podium of big races like Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Il Lombardia, Amstel Gold Race, Clasíca San Sebastian and the world championships road race in Florence. His only victories of the season date back to minor races in February on Mallorca and in the Ruta del Sol.
The 33-year old Spaniard didn’t study the route for the 2014 Tour in depth because he was not present in Paris. He is in Japan for the ASO’s Saitama Criterium on Saturday. Valverde does think it might be a good parcours for him.
“Good luck will be crucial on the cobbles. Punctures and crashes are bound to happen and any stage can turn into a decisive one,” he said.
The Movistar captain knows because this year he lost his second position in the overall in the echelon stage to St. Amand-Montrond. Valverde had a puncture at the exact moment Omega Pharma-Quick Step formed the echelons which would result in a time loss of almost ten minutes for the Spaniard.
“We haven’t decided anything about my programme for next year yet,” Valverde added. “We’ll see if I will do the Giro or the Tour. I like the Tour best but we’ll have to see what’s best for the team and make our choices then.”
For team manager Unzué the most important stages will come in the second half of the three week event. “Everyone is talking about the stages in the Vosges [on Planche des Belles Filles] and yes they are hard but I don’t think they’ll be decisive for the final podium. The Alpine stages are not so demanding. The overall will be defined in the Pyrenees and in the Bergerac time trial.”
Quintana agrees with Unzué. “The time trial will be one for the riders with raw power. The gaps will be noticeable. It’s time now to talk with Eusebio to decide what it the best choice for me as well as for Alejandro to see which grand tours we’ll be riding,” the Colombian concluded.