Nairo Quintana (Movistar) has said that he was caught unawares by Chris Froome’s attack on the descent of the Peyresourde during stage 8 of the Tour de France. At the stage start, Quintana told reporters that he was prepared for Froome to try and distance him, but it seemed that he hadn’t expected the defending champion to pick the start of the descent as his moment to do so.
Quintana had fended off moves from Froome and his Sky teammate Henao and looked relatively comfortable as they crested the final climb of the day. He grabbed a bidon from a soigneur stationed at the top of the climb before taking a quick swig but had to quickly dispatch of it when Froome made an unexpected acceleration just moments later. The Colombian said that he perhaps waited a moment too long to begin the chase, by which time it was already too late.
"Descending the Peyresourde I took a bottle of water. In this moment, Froome took the opportunity and he launched himself into the descent," Quintana explained at the finish line. "I paused to think for a few moments and he had gone. I thought that it would be a fast descent. Alejandro put in a fast chase to try and take back some time but it was't enough.
"We lost a few seconds that I hope will not cost us the race. My teammates were perfect but the final part was my carelessness."
Quintana's teammate Alejandro Valverde looked in trouble on the Peyresourde as he slipped down the group of favourites during the onslaught of attacks. Fortunately for Quintana, he was able to recover and began working his way back to the front as they hit the top of the climb. It was too late to react to Froome's initial move, but the 35-year-old put in a big shift on the front as they tried to chase back Froome.
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The group did manage to bring Froome’s advantage to just 13 seconds but Valverde was critical of other teams’ failures to help them out. BMC did bring Tejay van Garderen and Richie Porte to the front eventually but it was too late.
"When I came back, Nairo was still with Froome," Valverde said. "I couldn't see [Froome's] move, I only saw Froome alone and when I realised what had happened I had to get further forward before the first corner on the descent. I pulled on the descent with everything that I could until the line. Froome won well, and you have to give him the congratulations.
"The other teams helped in the chase too late, they all want to win the Tour but the in the end we always work the same."
Valverde and Quintana finished in the same group at 13 seconds behind Froome, although the Team Sky rider benefitted from 10 bonus seconds on the line. Valverde slipped down to fifth place at 19 seconds behind the yellow jersey with Quintana four seconds further back in sixth.
"We will try to take back the time but it might not be possible," Valverde said. “Tomorrow will be a really hard stage. There are lots of mountains to come, the team is feeling good. Nairo can be very strong but we have to wait and see.”
Stage 9 of the Tour de France is a challenging 184km ride into Andorra with five climbs including and hors categorie summit finish.
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