Vincenzo Nibali soloed to victory on stage 19 of the Tour de France, having attacked while race reader Chris Froome was dealing with a mechanical issue. Froome went on to take third on the stage, conceding 30 seconds to Nairo Quintana, who now trails by 2:38 on GC.
Chris Froome (Team Sky), on Nibali and Quintana's attacks
"It was up the Col du Glandon, pretty close to the summit, I suddently felt like my back wheel locked up, a bit of tar or a small stone had locked itself between my brake caliper and back wheel so I had to stop and take the wheel backwards to get the stone out. Unfortunately that was the moment that Nibali decided to make his move. He did see what he was doing, I’m pretty sure he looked around, saw I was in trouble and attacked. In my opinion you don’t do that to the race leader, it’s not sportsmanlike. He had the whole climb to attack and he waited until I had a mechanical. You certianly wouldn’t find me attacking a race leader like that.
"It was just a massive day out there, from the word go the racing was on. All in all a pretty good day for us to be able to tick it off, one day closer onw, one day of real racing left now. Oviously Quintana put in a real big attack there, I chose to ride my own tempo and try and limit my losses stay within myself and keep a bit of energy for tomorrow. It was a tough day for the team, a tough day for G, losing quite a bit of time today, he was feeling quite empty today, he’s done such a great job until now, been there every single day, poor guy, its so sad that at this point he’s lost his 4th place.
"It’s going to be very full on [tomorrow], I’m actually quite looking forward to it, the most iconic stage of this year’s Tour - it’s going to be epic out there. It would be an absolute dream [to win on the Alpe] but I’ve got to keep up with a little Colombian first."
Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
"I had waited for Sky to neutralise Nibali, they didn’t do that so we went steadily up the climb instead and then I attacked, where I’d planned to. I was hoping to get a bigger gap on Froome, and to be honest it wasn’t as much as I wanted, he fought back harder than I thought was likely. I’ll go on fighting and see what we can do. It was so fast on the climb, there’s no way I could get away before. I’ll keep on fighting though.
"We did what we could and Froome is very strong. At least we’ve tried. I’ll try again tomorrow from further out, let’s see how strong he is then. We’ll try for the stage win at least. NIbali got away today, but I’m sure Alejandro Valverde will be able to handle him in the battle for the podium."
Geraint Thomas (Sky), who finished 22 minutes down and dropped from 4th to 15th on GC
"I was just empty today. It was always going to happen I guess, I was hoping it was going to come Monday but it came today. I just did not have anything. As they say, sometimes you’re the hammer, sometimes you’re the nail. I was a cheapy little Ikea nail today. It was terrible.
"It was a tough start, when you’ve just got nothing in the legs there’s not a lot you can do, so there we go."
Romain Bardet (AG2R), who rode himself into the polka dot jersey
“For sure I wll do my best to defend it [the jersey], but it will be a tough battle again. Chris seems to be better than me. We don’t know – I’ll do my best, just enjoy the moment. It will be something incredible for a French rider to climb Alpe d’Huez with this jersey.
“I had a mechanincal [on the descent of the Croix de Fer] but it’s just cycling – sometimes that happens. There were no consequences and I just tried to do my best on the last climb.”
Bauke Mollema (Trek), who was 7th and moved up to 8th on GC
"It was really hard. With the start uphill like this, it was really hard, up and down all day, it was a big fight for everyone, not just us but for the guys trying to get inside the time limit. I was glad I was feeling better than the last few days, I moved up on GC so it was a good day. There was a good pace on the climb, the Croix de Fer was a big war and I was happy to be there, I kept fighting to the finish. It was just one of those days if you don’t have the legs it’s a really really hard day and I was glad I was feeling ok."