CHOLET, France (VN) — This is not the start that Nairo Quintana was hoping for.
The three-time Tour de France podium finisher is languishing more than two minutes behind the yellow jersey just three days into the race. His two other Movistar teammates, however, are sitting relatively pretty.
“The seconds we lost with Sky were within what we were expecting in the stage,” said Alejandro Valverde. “We’re not in too bad of a spot, so it’s OK.”
Movistar knew it was going to lose time Monday, so the team was downplaying any losses against its top GC rivals. Movistar finished 10th in the hotly contested team time trial, stopping the clock 53 seconds behind BMC Racing and 49 seconds slower than archrival Sky.
“In the GC, we are in front of Froome, Yates, Nibali, and Bardet, and close to Porte and Fulgsang,” said Mikel Landa. “It’s even better than we expected on a course so hard and demanding.”
Valverde and Landa, who both started on the same time as most of the favorites Monday, slotted into 16th and 17th place overall, at 53 seconds back respectively. Quintana gave up 1:15 in stage 1 after breaking two wheels when he struck a traffic island late in the race. On Monday, the Colombian settled into 59th at 2:08 behind new leader Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing).
“They said this would be a hard stage for us because we are all climbers,” Quintana said. “So I think we did a pretty good job defending our position today.”
Movistar boss Eusebio Unzué insists that the team will protect all three of its leaders going into the mountains next week.
“The Tour begins after the stage to Roubaix,” Unzué said about stage 9. “We keep saying that like a mantra. The cobblestones will help us pick our leader. Right now, Alejandro and Mikel are ahead of Nairo due to a mechanical. Let’s see how each of them comes out of the cobblestones. Right now, everything is going well.”