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For once, everything was going right for Movistar in the crosswinds at the Tour de France. Nairo Quintana, so often on the losing end of splits during his Tour career, was tucked in with the front group surrounded by Movistar teammates.
World champion Alejandro Valverde was taking pulls at the front to help drive the wedge to a host of GC favorites caught out in the echelons.
Just as fast, there was a pileup in the leading bunch, and Movistar’s co-captain Mikel Landa was on the ground.
It happened so fast no one knew what happened. Movistar ordered the entire team to sit up, except Valverde and Quintana, to try to help Landa, but it was in vain. Landa would lose 2:09 and no one was happy inside the Movistar camp.
“It was a shock,” Landa said. “I was right back up on my feet, between the public and the ground. Luckily it doesn’t look like anything serious.”
It may not have hurt him physically, but it was a frustrating blow to his GC hopes.
What happened? It appears Warren Barguil (Arkea-Samsic) clipped wheels with yellow jersey Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), and the Frenchman reacted to try to avoid crashing, and bumped shoulders with Landa. The nudge sent the Basque climber to the ground with just under 20km to go. Barguil later posted a message on Twitter saying the contact was unintentional, and apologized.
Je suis triste de la chute de Mikel Landa. Déséquilibré en touchant la roue de Julian, je touche Mikel qui me remontait sur la gauche. C’est allé très vite, ce n’était pas volontaire. J’ai évité la chute miraculeusement ce qui n’a pas été le cas de Mikel. J’espère qu’il va bien.
— barguil (@WarrenBarguil) July 15, 2019
“I am saddened by the crash involving Landa,” Barguil said. “I was knocked off balance when I hit Alaphilippe’s wheel, and I hit Mikel. It all happened so fast and it wasn’t on purpose. Miraculously I avoided crashing, but that wasn’t the case for Mikel. I hope he’s OK.”
That did little to help sooth Landa’s losses.
“I was surprised when I heard them call out a crash with Mikel on the radio,” Valverde told AS. “He was right on my wheel, perfectly positioned. I have no idea what happened. It’s a shame.”
With the front pack in full gallop, Landa was quickly isolated on the side of the road with the GC pack disappearing into the distance.
“We had bad luck with Landa’s crash,” said Quintana, who climbed into eighth overall. “I didn’t see Mikel’s fall, I was ahead. It was windy all day long. We could recover some time on our rivals, so we hope the body keeps going well.”
Landa settled into 21st, now 4:15 back. Just days after attacking and showing strong legs at La Planche des Belles Filles, Landa is struck with bad luck again.