Movistar played their hand on Wednesday's stage 11 to La Rosiere but came up with a high card as all three of their general classification leaders lost time on many of their rivals. In the end, Nairo Quintana was their best finisher and moved up into the top 10 for the first time at this year's Tour de France.
"We wanted to play, but the truth was that it didn't go how we hoped. It was a really hard rhythm and we lost some seconds but I hope to keep fighting for the race," said Quintana, who is now ninth overall, said after the stage.
The Spanish team had hinted after stage 10 that they would be taking an aggressive approach to the day and they did not disappoint. After Team Sky set the pace across the opening climb, Movistar sent Daniele Bennati to turn up the wick before their best-placed rider Alejandro Valverde jumped clear with just over three kilometres remaining until the top of the Col du Pré.
Valverde joined up with Marc Soler, who had been in the breakaway and had as much as two minutes on the GC group behind. But, it wouldn't be enough and the 38-year-old would be reeled back in with less than 10 kilometres remaining, before being spat out the back. In his attack, he had hoped to put Team Sky's Geraint Thomas and Chris Froome into trouble, but in the end, he would finish 3:30 down on Thomas, who went on to win the stage. There would be one piece of solace for Valverde: a trip to the podium as the most aggressive rider of the day.
Having stayed safely in the main group, Landa was able to stick with them a bit longer than his elder compatriot, but he too would take the way of the back door. Still suffering the after-effects of his crash on Sunday, all Landa could do was watch his teammate Quintana go up the road and hope for the best.
"I had a really hard day. I started with a pain in my back on the first climb and in the final, I wasn't able to follow the rhythm," Landa said. "We started the day wanting to animate the race and Valverde did that, and in the final, I hoped that Quintana could stay with Froome. I take it day by day.
"The final climb was not well suited to Quintana or myself, but rather for more powerful climbers like Geraint Thomas."
There is still one big mountain stage to come before three more undulating stages, which are unlikely to provide huge time gaps. Undeterred by the unfavourable result, Landa says that Movistar will try to make it as challenging as possible.
"Now we have to assess the gaps, relax a little bit and then see how we wake up tomorrow," he said. "We will see with our doctors how we are and we will then think about how to continue."
"Tomorrow, we have the Alpe d'Huez. It will be a brutal stage, and we will have to try and make it a hard stage."
Born in Ireland to a cycling family and later moved to the Isle of Man, so there was no surprise when I got into the sport. Studied sports journalism at university before going on to do a Masters in sports broadcast. After university I spent three months interning at Eurosport, where I covered the Tour de France. In 2012 I started at Procycling Magazine, before becoming the deputy editor of Procycling Week. I then joined Cyclingnews, in December 2013.
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