Plaza’s win was as long coming for him personally as it was welcome to his team; he’s been in the pro peloton for 15 years and yesterday was his first Tour stage win while it also marked the first triumph for his success-starved Italian squad.
The Spaniard was one of 23 riders who made the day’s break on the 201 kilometre run from Bourd de Peage to Gap and with the Alps looming after today’s rest day, he perhaps knew it was the last chance of a stage win.
And he was rewarded for his aggression on the final climb, attacking solo into a headwind, midway up the Col de Manse and holding on to the finish. Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) made a bold bid to pull back the leader on the treacherous descent but left it too late and finished runner-up for the fifth time this Tour.
“I am very long time a professional, this is my 15th season, and I’ve been to a lot of Tours, a lot of time away from my family,” the 35-year-old Plaza said.
“I was in a few breakaways in this Tour; the stage to Mende wasn’t for me, but I tried. The sensations were good today. I just decided to go for it with everything I had. I wanted to be at the front because I knew it was a dangerous descent.” Team Sky’s Froome fought off attacks from his GC rivals and avoided incident on the dicey descent – unlike teammate Geraint Thomas who was sent careering into a telephone pole by Giant Alpecin rider Warren Barguil.
In the aftermath, the yellow jersey-clad Froome faced some more questions about his performances and under intense media pressure, he along with team principal Dave Brailsford agreed to release some of his power files from selected stages of the race so far.
Brailsford was invited onto French television to discuss Froome’s power data as an expert suggested the 30-year-old Briton was not riding cleanly.
Pierre Sallet from the Athletes for Transparency organization produced a formula by which he measured Froome’s power output on his climb to La Pierre-Saint Martin last Tuesday — the 10th stage, which he won.
Sallet calculated that Froome had produced a reading that he believes was abnormally high and then claimed the only people to have recorded readings higher than Froome’s were doping cheats like Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich. But Brailsford was quick to play down the significance of it all, saying; “You have to be careful because it’s a mathematical formula.
“This isn’t the full data, that’s not Chris’ weight. It’s an estimate,” said Brailsford, referring to the 71kg weight used in the study.
Brailsford was then asked if there was information his team could provide now in order to allay the suspicions that have surrounded some of their performances.
“I think we’ve faced the same questions last time around 2013. We agreed to give all of our power data to UK Anti-Doping and the CADF. The CADF didn’t want it and UK Anti-Doping, I don’t think they did anything with it. But we were willing to give it to an independent body and we’d do the same now, we’ve got no problem with that at all,” Brailsford said.