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French hope Thibaut Pinot said the teams of Tour de France favourites Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana put on a show of force on Wednesday.
Quintana’s Movistar stripped eight minutes off the day’s breakaway in barely 20km before Froome’s Sky took up pace-setting for the final part of the stage. The injection of pace over two tough second category climbs shredded the peloton down to less than 30 riders and had Pinot hanging on for all his worth. And he said the heat didn’t help either.
“I’ve rarely ridden roads with so much tar melting,” said Pinot, who was third overall in 2014.
“The heat was difficult. It was better towards the end but I wasn’t having a great day. It was tough today. I suffered today, it was a really bad day but I was relieved to finish with the best.”
It wasn’t so much the form of Froome and Quintana that caught Pinot’s attention, as their teams’. And he said it doesn’t bode well for attacking racing during the Tour.
“When you see Sky’s armada — they had four or five riders (in the lead group) — so I don’t think we’ll see many attacks in this Tour. “But the overall isn’t decided here, it will be decided in the second and third weeks.”
His compatriot Romain Bardet, a top 10 finisher the last two years, did try an attack in the final 3km but he was chased down notably by Pinot and Movistar pair Alejandro Valverde and Quintana. Bardet too was impressed with the two favourites’ teams. “We saw a battle of team-mates and I can tell you that the team-mates of the leaders are very, very strong,” he said.
“Whether it’s Movistar or Sky, they set a high tempo all day to reduce the peloton, and no-one had fun on the final climbs.”