Nairo unleashed in Murcia
03 March 2012

Vuelta a Murcia (st. 1)

Quintana takes Movistar Team's fourth 2012 victory after winning the race's mountain stage, Colombian now on top of the leaderboard before tomorrow's decisive ITT

Just under a month after turning 22, Nairo Quintana took the best reward to his bright progression in his first season as a World Tour professional. The Colombian hopeful notched a solo win in the inaugural, most demanding stage in 32nd Vuelta a Murcia after attacking into the first slopes of the Cat. 1 Alto del Collado Bermejo, whose top was only 7k from the finish in Sierra Espuña, together with the year’s biggest revelation, Brit Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (EDR), whom he dropped one by one before the summit, from which he was able to keep a gap of fiteen seconds through the descent.

Quintana’s success is the fourth from Movistar Team in 2012 after the ones from Alejandro Valverde in the Tour Down Under and the Vuelta a Stage -stage 3 and the overall classification, as well as the fourth as pro for Nairo, following the two stages and the GC he notched up in the 2010 Tour de l’Avenir, jumping into the spotlight as one of the world’s best future prospects. The great performance from Movistar Team was completed by the fourth spot from Sergio Pardilla and the eighth from Jonathan Castroviejo, which made Movistar Team into the top of the squads’ classification. Quintana will thus be set to defend his yellow jersey in the second, last stage over 12.3 kilometers of individual time trial  around Murcia, where the Colombian will try to defend his 14-second gap over Poels (VAC), 16 seconds on Tiernan-Locke and half a minute over Samuel Sánchez (EUS).

REACTION – Nairo Quintana: “I came really focused to this Vuelta a Murcia. I knew that, despite the last descent, this was a stage suiting me really well, and that’s why I rode really concentrated to my objective. The team left me in perfect position before the climb, Tiernan-Locke attacked really hard at the foot and I went for him. He pushed hard all climb and tried to drop me like he did in Haut Var, but I stood his pace and made my attack with 1.5k from the summit. I didn’t know how skilled for the descents he was and took all risks because I knew I had to get alone before the end of the climb. I made a confident descent, riding well into the turns and I could keep my gap to win. I trained well in the start of the season and results are coming. This victory is for all Colombians, for Eusebio Unzué and Movistar Team for their confidence on me. Tomorrow will be a difficult stage to keep the leader jersey, but despite my small height and my lack of training, I think I don’t do bad at time trial, and will demand everything from myself to accomplish the goal of winning the Vuelta.”

Valiant at Strade Bianche
Apart from Murcia’s opening stage, Movistar Team also had another important race to complete on Saturday with one of the most spectacular events on the calendar, the Strade Bianche in Italy, including eight sterrato sections in its 190k hard route. The squad directed by José Luis Arrieta was on a very active mood all race, with Andrey Amador, Fran Ventoso and Giovanni Visconti into the eighteen riders contesting the race. Even though all three paid their efforts at the end, they went on the attack in the final stages as Visconti and Amador searched for a good position before the last climb of the day. Amador, Visconti and Ventoso finished in 13th, 14th and 16th respectively, preceeding a second group of favourites of nearly thirty riders with Rui Costa, Madrazo, Lastras and José Herrada, finishing a great Blue rendement.

Picture (c): Ciclismo a Fondo / Rafa Gómez