Nairo Quintana (Movistar) would have been pretty happy with himself following his time trial effort on the opening day of the Tour de France. The Colombian lost just one second to Richie Porte and took time on Romain Bardet and Alberto Contador.
Of the major general classification riders, only Chris Froome (Team Sky) was able to put a significant amount of time into Quintana, gaining 30 seconds overall.
His mood Saturday was dampened though, not by the rain but by the news that he had lost perhaps his most crucial lieutenant to a crash. Alejandro Valverde hit the deck as he navigated a sharp left turn, crashing heavily into the roadside barriers.
Valverde has finished in the top 10 in the last four editions of the Tour de France and has 21 Grand Tours worth of experience, and losing him will be a major blow for the Spanish outfit.
"I feel it a lot. It is really sad for the team and it is really disappointing to lose him from this competition knowing that he was one of our best riders," Quintana told a group of reporters as he sat on the steps of his Movistar bus.
"It will be very difficult [without Valverde], he is one of the most important riders for us and strategically it is a disappointment not to have him. I hope that he can recover quickly and there are no complications."
With some potentially hazardous stages to come over the next week, and the Tour notoriously techy in the opening days of racing, Movistar will want to ensure they make it through with no more hiccups. The directeur sportifs will also be making some frantic changes to their tactics.
"The team is relaxed and we have to continue to look ahead with what we have. The time that I did today was good and we have to look at the strategies ahead," he said.
"You always have to change your strategy after what has happened. [Valverde] was one of the most important riders for us and it is a real disappointment not to have him in the race."
Time will tell how much Valverde's absence will impact Quintana's overall ambitions when the race hits the mountains. For now, he can be relatively happy with how things panned out in the time trial, particularly considering the fortunes of his teammate.
"It is well balanced. Seeing how Sky did, we would have liked to be a little further up," said Quintana. "We had to be very careful in the corners but I was able to finish in the best way so I didn't lose so much time."
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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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