Tour de Suisse / R. Sud
Blues crown an unforgettable weekend with the final overall triumphs by Rui Costa and Nairo Quintana in the Tour de Suisse and the Route du Sud, increase their victory account to already 20 in a sensational 2012 season
Movistar Team made history today as they notched up the overall win in the two stagerace they took part in during the last week. Rui Costa -in the Tour de Suisse- and Nairo Quintana -at the Route du Sud- kept their respective leader jersey and increase the squad’s victory account to 20 -just one less than their already notable 2011- in a splendid season for the Blues.
In Switzerland, Costa culminated an impeccable race since he endorsed into the yellow leader’s jersey last Sunday atop Verbier. Since then, seven stages with a common denominator: a superb work by all his teammates to keep the coveted shirt. After yesterday’s suffering through the slopes of Arosa, Rui was facing the biggest test of his career in a marathon last stage, where two HC climbs had to be tackled before the final ascent into Sörenberg (Cat. 2). The Portuguese rider always made the front group and relied on a massive help by an impressive Alejandro Valverde in the finale, absolutely devoted to his leader -and still taking the 9th spot in the fginal overall- and offering a lession on how a champion can adapt to team labours. Costa, 25 years old, snatches his second success of the season and his 12th in six years as pro rider.
Meanwhile, in France, Nairo Quintana had no troubles to defend his overall leadership at the Route du Sud, whose last stage came into a bunch sprint after control from Movistar Team made feel the big effort from the selective, Pirenaic route from Saturday. Quintana, aged 22, has taken his fifth triumph for an amazing WorldTour debut, after winning the Queen stages in Murcia -where he claimed the GC, Dauphiné and yesterday’s in Arras.
Rui Costa: “I’m extremely happy to have been able to crown all the work done during the week. I went through a bad day yesterday due to the efforts from the TT on Friday and I didn’t know how I was going to feel today, but I use to recover well from such bad days. I already saw I had good legs after the first climb and that made me confident. I didn’t become nervous either when Schleck attacked, because I knew he was doing really strong uphill and it’d have been crazy to go for him. I knew that the flat between the two climbs was good for us to reel him back, and that’s how we did. In the finale, Alejandro gave me some fundamental help because the race was becoming chaos, and he did an impressive work. I owe this yellow jersey to him. He’s a great champion, a great team-mate and friend, and he showed those values today. With 3k remaining, it was a matter of controlling the group and keeping Kruijswijk close. Together with my stage win in the Tour, this is my most important triumph and the one I’m going to enjoy the most for all efforts we had to take. I want to dedicate this to all the team, because they made a magnificent labor all week. I have no words to describe it.”
Nairo Quintana: “This victory is for everyone who has always been supporting me and made reaching this point possible for me. To be honest, it was a stage more calm than what we expected. Without a doubt, the huge hardness from yesterday made a big effect into the bunch. We weren’t riding fast at the last climb, but the speed got a bit faster and people were dropping behind. That was the sign that very little energy was left after the previous day. My team-mates did a great work in the first part of the stage, which was the most complicated thing because attacks were flying at the front, but once we let the break gain space, everything was more calm, plus the teams with sprinters came to help us as we had forecast. I never see my victory threatened. The work by the guys was genius, we make a very compact group and I’m proud to be part of it. It was a spectacular day with Rui’s victory and our streak seems not to have an end. This gives us more harmony and willingness to commit to the highest point for our team-mates.”