A pessimistic-sounding Mikel Landa (Movistar) insisted he "needed some time to process" his Tour de France bid on Tuesday after his crash on stage 10 to Albi all but cost the Basque rider his chances of fighting for the general classification this year.
Landa crashed whilst well positioned during the fraught final hour of echelons after Warren Barguil (Arkéa-Samsic) accidentally caused him to fall. As a result of his time loss, Landa has plummeted to 21st overall at 4:15.
Speaking during the Movistar press conference on Tuesday, his teammate Nairo Quintana, in contrast, sounded markedly more upbeat as he remains firmly in contention. The Colombian is in eighth place overall, 2:14 back.
On the plus side, Landa said that he had suffered only slight injuries in the crash. But it was scant comfort. In this year's Tour, Landa is faced with an overly familiar goal of having to fight back from a difficult position after a tough first week. And that, he said, was no easy pill to swallow.
"I got up this morning feeling OK, although one arm took a knock, but I've got very low morale," Landa told reporters. "Once again, I have to try to bounce back and I don't know how I'm going to handle this year's Tour.
"I will try to get motivated again, but right now I see very little to be motivated about. My form's good, but I'm feeling down."
Recent Grand Tour history could provide him with a little boost to his morale, he reasoned, pointing out that "Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) was five minutes ahead of me at the start of the third week [of the Giro d'Italia], but I ended up losing the GC podium to him by just eight seconds. So maybe there's some hope."
Yet the stage 10 crash unsurprisingly continues to loom large in Landa's mental landscape right now, with the Basque saying, "At the moment it happened, I thought, 'why did this have to happen to me?' even thought you don't need to think so hard about these things."
The repeated questions from the media, it seems, are doing little to alleviate his colossal sense of bad luck, and at one point Landa's disappointment had a distinctly funereal feel. "I just need some time to process," he said, "spend my two days feeling miserable, so leave me in peace and I hope my luck changes."
He said he has not talked to Barguil, preferring to leave his mobile phone switched off since the day of the crash.
"I was in a great place in the bunch, I was right where I needed to be. And it's yet another crash, so it all just keeps on adding up. It only happened recently, hopefully in two days I'll have got over it, and I get a bit more room for manouevre as a result in the race, but that's complicated. In the Tour, it's not just the highest positions on GC that get defended."
In stark contrast to Landa, Quintana oozed optimism, pointing out that he had never been so close to his rivals time-wise at this point in a Tour de France in previous years. "Ineos are racing very strongly with [Geraint] Thomas and [Egan] Bernal, and the race will depend on them and how they choose to shut things down. But I'm in good shape and I have got good morale.
"OK, I'll lose time in the time trial, but I hope it won't be too much. There are still 11 days to go. There's a lot of mountain racing to come and I hope we can make the most of it – together with Alejandro [Valverde] and Mikel."
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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