Volta a Catalunya (st. 3)
Quintana wins atop Vallter 2000 after huge attack in the final meters over Valverde, the new race leader following excellent work from Movistar Team
It was a sensational one-two -the first with the green ‘m’ and blue jersey in the World Tour- for Movistar Team on day three of the 93rd Volta a Catalunya, over 180 kilometers from Vidreres to the summit of Vallter 2000. Colombian Nairo Quintana took the day’s honours -the fifth success for the team so far this season- with a powerful attack into the final slope, the steepest into the climb, into the final 500 meters. His move, which countered the previous one by reigning Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins (SKY), was tried to be followed by Joaquim Rodríguez (KAT), closely watched by Alejandro Valverde, who protected his team-mate’s chances. Quintana, who claims his 10th pro victory after having just turned 23 years old, came across the finish with six seconds over Valverde, Rodríguez and Wiggins, what puts the Spaniard in the lead of the overall classification as Nairo jumps into 6th.
The double by Quintana and Valverde put an end into a great work from Movistar Team all day,e especially into the decisive climb and the approach through the Cat. 1 Túnel de Collabós, 30k from the finish. Erviti, Szmyd and Karpets set the initial tempo before leaving room for Plaza, Capecchi and Herrada to keep their leaders into good position. The telephone squad will now try to defend its leadership into the second mountain-top finish of the race, following a long trek (218km) between Llanars and Port Ainé (HC) that also features the demanding Port del Cantó.
REACTION / Nairo Quintana: “I’m really satisfied. I hoped for this victory to come since I started my season in Andalucía, and especially in Paris-Nice, where a crash avoided myself getting a better result and left me sad. This victory is a boost for my moral and confidence. There was a strong headwind at the top of the climb and our strategy was waiting for that very last moment to attack. The attack by Wiggins took the speed up and it was really good for us to know the climb, since we knew that the hardest point came at the end of it. I saw a good moment to attack and it was just when Purito made his move, but I didn’t see him because I jumped earlier, as soon as I saw the turn where I had thought of attacking. I had good legs and could keep the speed until the end. Having Alejandro at your side makes you more calm, but not only yourself, also the entire squad. There was a strong cooperation between all of us these days. It was a pity that I missed the cut on day one, but we have Alejandro at the front and will fight for the overall win. I know the final climb of tomorrow’s stage too, since I did a recon last year, though that stage was shortened. Let’s hope the legs stay as well as today. This victory is for my family and all the team: not only my team-mates, but also the sports directors and staff that make all this possible.”
Alejandro Valverde: “The headwind into the final climb was the key: it was stupid to try and make a move because you would end up losing energy and not opening any gaps. Everyone was awaiting for the final kilometer and some time gaps were formed even though it was all played within such a short terrain. I kept attention on Purito, because I knew he was going to give it a try, but Nairo was wise and anticipated his move. Even though we’re all on the limit in such stages, my legs were rather good. It was a perfect day for us with my leader jersey and Nairo’s victory. I’m as happy with him winning as if I had won the stage myself, because it’s his first this season, and I think it will be really important for him. The team was sensational all day, keeping the gaps with the break short and taking efforts on the riders pushing through the climb. We’re getting the lead and there’s still a long way to go, but you’re confident when you have such team-mates – they’re a strong guarantee. Tomorrow’s stage is gonna be a really, really hard one, more than today. We’ll be reaching heights over 2,000 meters above sea level again and the finish is steep, especially after a 217-kilometer stage. We’ll see how it all ends.”