Alejandro Valverde, Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa are Movistar's three potential overall contenders for this year's Tour de France. Two days after Paris-Roubaix, all three were out training on some of the same pavé sectors that will be used in stage 9 at the French Grand Tour in July.
The three riders, along with teammates Imanol Erviti, Marc Soler and Jasha Sütterlin, previewed the 15 cobbled sectors that will used in stage 9's 154km race from Arras Citadelle to Roubaix. Combined, those sectors will amount to 21.7km of racing.
"What we wanted here was to get a real feeling about the terrain: how you enter and tackle every sector, which ones of them could be key – it's obvious that it will all be a different story when you're racing and into a furious peloton, but I'm sure this recon will really help us a lot," said director José Luis Arrieta.
"We were also lucky, since we had two days of dry weather, which allowed us covering the entire group of sectors with no setbacks. Taking advantage of all equipment we already had here in northern France for Roubaix, we also tested different wheelsets, tyre pressures – it's also about having everyone going into this stage, come July, with absolute confidence about what’s best for them.
"All three leaders had already ridden on cobblestones this spring, and even if we know that the hardness of those sections is nowhere near the Roubaix pavé, it’s significant for us to have them feeling what it’s like to go on a cobbled race."
Arrieta also said that stage 9 could become decisive because of their unpredictability, potential for crashes, mechanicals and time setbacks.
"As we always saw, you can lose the Tour de France at every stage, and days like these are even more dangerous. You'll need to be in perfect form, know what you're facing, and also some extra bit of luck, because a puncture, a mechanical, can all cost you lots of time. It's pretty likely that one of the race contenders will leave this stage with his chances ruined."