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Tour de France

Landa wants to help Movistar derail Sky train

Mikel Landa and his Movistar teammates are waiting for the right moment to attack Froome at the Tour.

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LE-GRAND-BORNAND, France (VN) — Mikel Landa knows what it’s like to be inside Team Sky’s formidable train.

After racing two seasons inside the Sky machine, Landa is now on the outside looking in and vows to try to knock the Sky train off its rails.

“When you are part of that train, you see it differently; you are the strong one,” Landa told AS. “Now you’re on the outside, and you see Froome surrounded by four teammates.

“Sky perhaps commands respect with their numerical superiority. Nevertheless, we will try to take them on at the right moment. We want to knock them off their crown.”

Team Sky grabbed Tuesday’s first mountain stage of the 2018 Tour de France by the scruff of the neck. If anyone was wondering if its riders were somehow not up to the task, they found their answer.

Team Sky railed the GC group up and over the Tour’s first major climbs. No one dared lift a finger until Dan Martin (UAE-Emirates) tried a late-climb zinger that was quickly snuffed.

“With their characteristic rhythm, so fast and so hard, no one even wanted to try,” Landa said.

Team Sky controlled the race at the front end of the GC group. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

Movistar didn’t dare challenge Sky’s dominance in Tuesday’s climbing stage. Most teams were wary of what the Tour’s first mountain stage might hold, especially following nine hard stages of racing, a long transfer and Sunday’s bumpy stage over the cobblestones.

Landa raced with bandages to his right side but said he was “OK” despite falling in the neutral rollout in Annecy.

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“The sensations were not bad. Sky set a very high rhythm and no one had the strength to attack,” Landa told VeloNews. “Today was a little bit complicated after the crash Sunday, but I arrived with the group. I am a little banged up but the legs are good.”

Movistar kept all three of its cards in play Tuesday. While it appeared Alejandro Valverde was dropped, he said his chain got stuck near the top of the Colombière and was otherwise able to regain contact to finish with the main GC group without too much drama.

Others in the peloton suffered as the Tour steered into the first major climbs after nine days of relatively flat terrain. A few top GC riders slipped back, including Rafa Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha-Alpecin) and Rigoberto Urán (EF-Drapac).

Nairo Quintana admitted he felt some after-effects of Sunday’s pavé stage as he finished safely within the main contenders’ group.

“The body felt a little strange after the pavé and you always suffer a little bit after the rest day,” Quintana said. “We saw a few others struggling, but the bad luck hasn’t touched us.”

Like Landa, Quintana is bent on trying to knock Sky off its game. Tuesday’s stage wasn’t the right moment. Wednesday’s short and explosive stage will surely see more fireworks ahead of Alpe d’Huez on Thursday.

“These are three hard days where a lot of things can happen,” Quintana continued. “There is a lot of climbing ahead of us, and we have to search for the right moment to try to attack and play our cards.”