Samu Sánchez was his usual emotional self after today's historic win atop the mighty Luz-Ardiden. Speaking to the assembled press after crossing the line hands pointing to the sky, the team captain was naturally struggling to come to grips with what he'd just achieved. "I can't believe I've just won a stage in the Tour de France", he said, fighting to keep the tears at bay. "It was very important to win here at Luz-Ardiden in front of my fans. Actually, this win has twice the value because of them. It's a very emotional and exciting win for us because of all the support we received on the road today. It's a dream come true. We're not a team of millionaires. We're a modest, all-Basque team. We love our fans and they love us. It's our biggest victory of the season. I've worked very hard to be at my best for this year's race. I've sacrificed more than ever: I've spent time away from my family and from people I've lost. But now it's worth it." A special mention has to go out to the ever-impressive Rubén Pérez who, just like yesterday, was in the break of the day and gave the team some much-needed presence up front on home terrain. He even managed to help Samu a bit when he attacked right at the foot of the last climb. To do that, on back-to-back stages, in the high mountains, for a sprinter, is just awesome. Simple as that.
Through his 40-points haul at the summit, Samu is now leading the climbers competition and will get to wear the polkadots for at least a few days I reckon. As for the other riders, Verdugo and especially Izagirre looked solid. The former ended up a decent 33rd at 4:21, whilst the latter, who together with Verdugo covered some moves towards the top of the Tourmalet, finished 14:54 down along with breakaway hero Pérez. In between were Martínez in 50th at 9:56. A Pérez came in 15:03 in arrears, while Urtasun, who crashed rather badly pretty early on, cruised home inside the gruppetto. Here's to another couple of days in the Pyrenees!