Alberto Contador had his eyes on getting through the challenging stage 19 to La Toussuire, as cramps throughout the intensive day took its toll. “It was a day where I had to survive”, says Contador, who retained his fifth place in the GC of Tour de France after strong support from his teammates.
After crossing the line 2’26” down on stage winner Vincenzo Nibali, Tinkoff-Saxo’s captain explained that the stage turned out quite well despite bad sensations during the day.
"It was a day where I had to survive. I started with bad sensations and cramps all day so I had to save energy as much as I could. I sent Majka to pull at the front and he set the pace and it calmed a bit down. Things turned out quite well. Nibali is now ahead in the GC and I congratulate him for that. It's true he did a very good job today. In what regards me, I think it deserves more merit to have reached this point than previous victories. I had strong cramps throughout the day and I was praying to make it through. Tomorrow will be another day”, comments Alberto Contador, who finished 9th in the group of GC riders:
“We will see how I will feel tomorrow. The most important thing right now is to have a very good massage and recover. My muscles and tendons suffered a lot because the extreme heat dehydrated me. The most important aspect is to recover for tomorrow”.
Head Sports Director Steven de Jongh notes that the squad executed the team strategy but that he’s sad to see Michael Valgren leaving the Tour after bronchitis forced the debutant to withdraw despite a dedicated effort to pull through.
“The squad executed our strategy to perfection once again but in the end, Nibali, Quintana and Froome were just stronger today. Nobody gave less than one hundred percent and guys like Kreuizger, Majka and Rogers were there to support Alberto in the finale. Rafal pulled hard on the final climb and showed that he’s going well this late in the race. Respect to the guys today and especially to Michael Valgren, who unfortunately had to abandon today due to illness. He was sick from the start, he couldn’t breath and was dropped early. He fought with all his powers but in the end, he had to stop. It’s a real pity, it’s his first time doing the Tour and he has put in big effort”, says de Jongh, who’s backed by Rafal Majka:
“I tried to help Alberto as much as possible during the stage and surely on the final climb. But it was difficult because there were some flat parts on the climb, which made it difficult to keep the rhythm. I like the steep climbs but in the end, it is what it is and we are going to try our best again tomorrow for sure. It’s a shame that Valgren had to abandon today but if you are very sick it’s not possible. The body spends so much energy and in the end it’s better to stop otherwise you kill yourself completely. He has done a big job for the team but he’s a young rider so he will come back again”, adds Rafal Majka.
The green jersey of Peter Sagan got one step closer to claiming the jersey in Paris as he leads the classification by 104 points. However, Sagan notes that he has to make it through the Alps before turning his attention to the sprinters’ battle on the Champs-Élysées.
“I hope that I feel good tomorrow and that I will make it to Paris as fresh as possible. Now I’m thinking about resting and that tomorrow will be really, really hard and then I can start focusing on Paris and the Champs-Élysées. Today I felt a bit better than yesterday and I hope that I will be fresh again tomorrow. If I can finish within the time limit tomorrow the green jersey is just one day away in Paris, which is more like a celebration race before the finale. But on the Champs-Élysées, everybody of course wants to win and I will try if I’m there”, finishes Peter Sagan.