Tour de France: Movistar makes improvements on stage eleven
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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tour de France: Movistar makes improvements on stage eleven

by Kyle Moore at 9:55 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
Kiryienka and Valverde combative, Cobo finally finding his legs

Alejandro ValverdeIn the thrilling day of racing in stage eleven of the Tour de France, Movistar was one of the teams in the thick of the battle, as the Spanish team had one of its better days of the Tour so far.

The one downside for Movistar was the time loss incurred by Rui Costa, as the Tour de Suisse champion lost over 14 minutes on the day, dropping to 19th overall at 19’02” behind overall leader Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling). But given the big losses of other top names, such as Denis Menchov (Katusha), Maxime Monfort (Radioshack-Nissan), and Rein Taaramäe (Cofidis), Costa remains in striking distance of a top fifteen spot in Paris.

But on stage eleven, Movistar had a presence in both the breakaway and the yellow jersey groups, with Vasil Kiryienka appearing to be in solid contention for the stage win before cracking halfway up the final climb of La Toussuire. The multiple Giro d’Italia stage winner has been in several breaks throughout the past week of the Tour.

Alejandro Valverde has perhaps not been where he would have liked to be when the past two stages have gotten selective, but he took advantage of previous time lost to find the breakaway of stage eleven, giving Movistar an extra presence along with Kiryienka. But he was dropped out of the breakaway when Christophe Kern (Europcar) turned up the pressure in support of his team-mate and eventual stage winner Pierre Rolland. Valverde rode for a time with the yellow jersey group before coming home 22nd on the stage. He now sits in 18th place overall.

“It was a tough stage, one of the days I suffered most on the bike,” Valverde admitted afterward. “In 148 kilometres, almost 5,000 vertical metres is crazy. We knew it was a stage where I could get in the breakaway from the start, which is what we wanted. I attacked on La Madeleine to reach the front and from there we went hard all day. The escape was good, but Sky has such force that works against an advantage.

“We hadn’t gotten out to four minutes and that gap on a stage like today is nothing. On the Croix de Fer I do not know if I paid for the effort of being on the limit all day. The aim is clearly to seek stages, but it will be very complicated. We will have to keep trying, and today the team has fought to the end.”

Along with Kiryienka and Valverde, Juan Jose Cobo made his first appearance in the yellow jersey group, showing good legs for essentially the first time in the 2012 season and finishing 17th on stage eleven. The 2011 Vuelta a España champion has had a hard go of it in his first season with the Movistar squad, but seems to be coming good at the right time in the Tour de France. The Spaniard could look to capitalize on the form to grab a stage win in the final week.

“The truth is that it took me days to find the good feelings, but it seems that I found the rhythm at last. Particularly in view of the Pyrenees, this gives me a lot of morale. I came to the Tour in good condition but with a lack of race fitness, and these ten days have allowed me to go find myself better. I still struggle some with changes of pace and I got dropped when [Cadel] Evans had a go for a bit, and then I rode with Haimar [Zubeldia] and [Frank] Schleck.

“Then I went much better to La Toussuire, which has made me a little stronger. Now comes a stage [stage 12] in which time loss will probably come early. I think especially in the Pyrenean stages I can do better, and look for that stage win that it would seem we are denied despite how much we are working.”


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