After keeping their noses out of the wind on stage 10, Mikel Landa believes that he and his fellow Movistar leaders, Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde, will have a chance to really take on the Tour de France on Wednesday's stage to La Rosière.
The ascending will start almost immediately on the 108-kilometre day, which has packed in four classified climbs, including the 17.6-kilometre first category summit finish. The short, yet relentless, nature of the parcours will make it much harder to control, says Landa, and therefore favour the Spanish team as they to try and put a cat among the pigeons.
"Tomorrow's stage should be better for us, as it's one where it's difficult to keep such a strong group together and could be good for us three," Landa told the press as he warmed down outside his team bus in Le Grand Bornand. "It will be already a difficult stage, with some moves from the first climb, so we'll see how we can manage our efforts over the route."
Landa enjoyed an uneventful day on the bike, which will be a welcome break to him after he hit the deck quite hard during Sunday's stage to Roubaix. The Spaniard had been drinking from a bidon when he ran over a drain cover and lost control of his bike. He lost just seven seconds, after a mighty effort from his team to bring him back, but suffered a lot of abrasions as a result of the incident. On the rest day, Landa said that he was back to normal but said on Tuesday that he had some pain in his back.
"After the Roubaix stage and the rest day, and the crash on Sunday, I think the best thing for me was to relax a bit and save myself," he said. "My back hurt a bit at the end of the stage, but I think it's just normal after such a hit; my legs feel good. Sky set a very hard pace, probably trying to defend their position, and I think no one really was willing to burn themselves out by launching a real attack in this situation."
Heading into the second of a tryptic of mountain stages, Valverde is currently the best placed of the Movistar trio in the overall classification. The elder statesmen of the GC riders is currently 11 seconds up on Landa, who is on the same time as Froome. There were a few moments of stress for Valverde when he had issued with his gearing as Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates) attacked over the top of the Colombiére, but that was it.
"Things were pretty much under control for us, we always the three of us inside the general classification group," said Valverde. "In the final kilometre of the Colombiére, I was experiencing some problems with my gearing, the chain was stuck and I had to get it back on so that I could get back to the group."
Looking ahead to Wednesday, Valverde thinks that the stage could go two ways – an explosion in the general classification, or nothing much at all.
"It's a series of three difficult days in the Alps and tomorrow's stage is so short and intense that it could see big fireworks or nothing at all, we'll see what we can do," he said.
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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