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"I was keeping good legs, no one was trying it, and with 2km to go, I said to Nairo: 'Should I attack?' He just told me: 'Go for it.' I launched that attack, I opened a gap and I could keep it until the finish!"

Photo: Movistar Team


19.06.2016 @ 00:20 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Marc Soler (Movistar) took his first professional victory in impressive fashion when he soloed to the top of the Col du Curaduque in the Route du Sud queen stage. Despite spending the day in the early break and riding on the front for Nairo Quintana, he had enough left to make a late attack and as Quintana marked the rivals from behind, he held off his chasers to win the stage. Quintana beat Hugh Carthy (Caja Rural) in the sprint for second and so retained the overall lead, with Soler moving into second place.


We have gathered a few reactions.


Marc Soler: Quintana said ’Go for it!’

The Movistar Team dominated the Queen stage of the 40th Route du Sud, the hardest and penultimate route in this year's Pyrenean course over 184km including the grueling climbs of the Col du Tourmalet (Cat-1), the Col des Bordères (Cat-2) and the finish atop Couraduque (Cat-1). Weather contributed to make it even more demanding, with dangerous rain inonto some descent sections and even some snowflakes when the peloton, always pulled by the Chente García Acosta-led squad, reached the La Mongie ski resort en route to the Tour's biggest legend.


Moreno, Sutherland, Erviti, Dayer Quintana and an outstanding Herrada and Rojas - the latter was part of the 15-rider breakaway which led most of the stage - kept a calm, steady, convincing pace in all stretches. Marc Soler, who was joining Rojas in the break, let his companions go in Bordères and joined a 20-rider elite peloton with three other team-mates. The Catalan made an impressive job on the run-in towards the final climb and on its slopes, letting only three riders follow the wheel of Nairo Quintana: Nicolas Edet (COF), Hugh Carthy (CJR) and Thomas Voeckler (DEN).


Two kilometers from the finish line, and boosted by his good legs and motivation, Soler - to turn 23 in November; winner of the 2015 Tour de l'Avenir - launched an attack which Carthy tried to follow desperately as the gap grew to almost twenty seconds under the red kite of the final kilometer. The Briton was ultimately beaten by Quintana over the line, the Movistar Team's closing a wonderful one-two finish for the Blues with Soler claiming his first pro win (24 for the Movistar Team this season, 25 including Ion Izagirre's in the Tour de Suisse; ten different riders with victories).


Quintana remains in the lead, with Soler now in 2nd place at 36” and looking certain to wrap up nicely another unforgettable stagerace for the telephone squad. Sunday's closing stage is an eight-lap circuit in and around Clermont-Pouyguillès, 154km including eight climbs of the Côte de Moncassin (Cat-3).


Marc Soler said:


“I'm really happy with how things have evolved and even more with claiming my first win against the pros in such a beautiful way, after a huge day from the whole squad. We followed Chente's instructions practically until the very end, and it all turned out well at the finish. This victory goes to my palmarès, but the whole team worked their hearts out to ensure that we fulfilled the goals.


”Back in Dauphiné I was feeling like everything from the past few weeks had been correct, but the wear and tear of the race was a bit too much for me - I really found better legs this weekend at the Route du Sud.


"As I kept the wheel of the front group, we also played sort of further control in the race situation, with our guys pulling from behind. However, at Bordères I chose to wait for my team-mates and help to pick up the pace on the final slopes, but once we got into the final climb, I was keeping good legs, no one was trying it, and with 2km to go, I said to Nairo: 'Should I attack?' He just told me: 'Go for it.' I launched that attack, I opened a gap and I could keep it until the finish! I had to suffer so much, but that makes it more worth. Both Nairo and the whole squad have helped me a lot, and I thank them for this win."


Nairo Quintana: There was no need to make further efforts

Nairo Quintana said:


"Our race today was textbook stuff, just like we had planned it in the morning; things went just like we wanted to. Our idea on the Couraduque climb was to try a move by myself and seeking for that stage win, but once we saw Marc was doing really well, at some point he asked me if he could go forward, and I said to him it was good to attack. Finally we were first and second so it is a good day.


“It's good to share these moments of joy and excitement with the guys; they all deserve to feel like a winner, even if it's only for one day. They work so hard throughout the season so riders like me can enjoy success, and these wins make them grow, especially the youngsters who are coming behind us.


“My legs felt well; there wasn't any need to make further efforts and the day went perfectly. Let's just hope for a calm stage tomorrow, as it always worries one when you've got to face a circuit race, with the road furniture, the stress... I just can't wait to celebrate with the guys."


Hugh Carthy: To arrive with Quintana is a good result

Caja Rural - Seguros RGA put on a strong team performance on Saturday’s queen stage of Route du Sud with no less than four riders in top 10. Hugh Carthy finished third and he’s now on the overall podium before tomorrow’s final stage of the race.


Today’s big stage in the high mountains took place in bad weather conditions, making it a very cold and wet day for the peloton. However, the Caja Rural - Seguros RGA riders showed high moral and good legs all day long. In a heavily reduced peloton, the team still had four riders in the mix as they crossed the top of the legendary climb, Col du Tourmalet, with 60 km to go. More teammates joined the peloton on the following long descent, but soon after the pack started on the final climb of the day, Col de Couraduque, it was down to a small group once again. Sergio Pardilla, David Arroyo and Ricardo Vilela were all there to support Carthy.


Movistar kept a high pace, thinning out the group until only six riders were left at the front, including both Pardilla and Carthy. With 3 km left to go, Marc Soler (Movistar) attacked and he quickly gained a gap. On the final kilometer, Carthy put it all on the line and attacked the leading rider Nairo Quintana (Movistar). The 21-year-old Brit came very close to catching Soler but he had to settle for third place as Quintana passed him right on the line. Pardilla finished 6th on the stage, Vilela 7th and Arroyo 10th making Caja Rural - Seguros RGA topping the team classification on the day.


In the general classification, Carthy is now third, 58 seconds behind Quintana. Pardilla sits 6th (+1:55 min), while Vilela is 7th (+2:01 min).


Hugh Carthy said:


“I had already marked this stage as an opportunity for me and I accomplished that goal. The rain made it a hard day but the whole team performed very well. I felt good on the final climb and I went for it. I would have liked to do better, but to arrive with Quintana and take third place is a good result. Tomorrow is another day. It’s a typical French course with short and steep hills. We have to stay very alert to keep this overall podium position”.


On a bad note, Antonio Molina had to withdraw from the race after a crash today. The young Spanish rider hurt his shoulder and will now undergo further examinations.


Nicolas Edet shows excellent form at Route du Sud

Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) was fourth


"I'm happy, it's not the conditions that I like but this year I am getting used to it,” he told Directvelo. “All day, Movistar set a great tempo, and on the descent of the Tourmalet, Quintana left. I could follow and that proved I had good legs. We were more from the Cofidis team but with Movistar having 6 out of 25, it was about waiting for the final climb. We had to try when Quantina was alone but a teammate attacked at that point. It was decided by the legs so I have no regrets.”

Mads Pedersen surprises in Route du Sud queen stage

The queen stage of the Route du Sud (2.1) was a very strength-sapping one with five hard climbs, rain, snow and low temperatures. Nonetheless it was a good day for Team Stölting Service Group as Mads Pedersen showed a surprisingly good performance, finishing as 26th.


The groups came back together somewhat before the penultimate climb; Mads Pedersen made it back to the GC favourites’ group after a phenomenal descent. On the Col des Bordères, he only lost contact just before the crest of the climb when the group was down to 20 riders. The last escapees were caught at the same time. He eventually finished 26th.


Sports Director André Steensen was satisfied with how the stage went: “The weather meant that it was a very, very hard stage. It snowed on the last kilometres of the Tourmalet, and twenty riders abandoned. Christian Mager and Mads Pedersen kept up with the best on the Tourmalet until 3.5 km from the top, when the peloton fell apart into lots of groups shortly before La Mongie. Mads and Christian were in the same group, then Christian lost 30 seconds on Mads on the last part. It was extremely cold up there, a very hard climb. Mads rode very, very well on the descent and got up to a group. Then he himself closed the gap to the last fifteen riders that this group had chased. There were ten seconds, and he took the responsibility and brought them to the front, that was very strong. Christian didn’t make it back unfortunately, he couldn’t close the 30 seconds to Mads on the descent.”


Steensen was very impressed with his 20-year old Dane: “Mads got back with 2 km to the start of the next climb, and nevertheless he stayed there almost to the top,” he said. “He was 50 m back with 600 m to go, then it simply became too steep for him. And don’t forget that Mads probably was the only rider in that group who weighed more than 65 kg; I hadn’t expected him to be up there at all. Weight means a lot on these long climbs, you have to push a lot of watts to keep up. It was a great performance, he showed how big a talent he is, definitely a man for the future. After all, it was a group with Quintana, the favourite for the Tour de France.


“Tomorrow’s stage isn’t a normal flat stage, but a circuit that isn’t straightforward,” Steensen gave his opinion on the final stage, 154.8 km around Clermont-Pouyguillès. “I think that Alexander Kamp or Christian Mager can get a result here. Maybe Michael Reihs too as the final is quite explosive. Thomas is also riding very well here. We will try for a result; this stage is the one that suits us the best. Of course, everybody is tired after three days’ racing, especially today’s stage in the rain.”


Blel Kadri back on the attack in Route du Sud queen stage

Blel Kadri (A2GR La Mondiale) was in the break.


"We had no leader in the team so before the race we had a plan to attack,” he told Directvelo. “With three in the break, we tried to do everything to make it to the end. With the weather it could have been possible. François Bidard accelerated at the bottom of the penultimate climb. We made ​​every effort to win but with Movistar and Quintana it was too much. Personally, I'm happy. It's nice to be in front of a race as difficult as this."



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