Tour de France (st. 20)
Quintana writes the most brilliant page in Latin American cycling’s history atop Semnoz, claims 2nd place overall in Tour as well as KOM and Young Riders’ jerseys following extraordinary work by Movistar Team from start to finish. Outstanding Valverde (4th) ends in eighth spot
The 2013 Tour de France saved a golden climax for Movistar Team in its finale, completing a tremendous Grande Boucle with Nairo Quintana’s victory in the final mountain stage. The Colombian closed his debut in the French grandtour in style, coming solo across the finish of the HC climb of Semnoz in Annecy, the end of a 125-kilometer stage 20 with five other rated climbs. The success by the rider from Cómbita was forged from spectacular work by all his team-mates, seizing control of the race from the very beginning to keep gaps short with a nine-man original breakaway that saw German Jens Voigt (RLT) jumping into the Mont Revard (Cat-1), the day’s penultimate climb.
A short push from Sky reduced the 3-minute advantage from the escapee to almost zero at the foot the climb, with just eight riders at the front: race leader Chris Froome (SKY), team-mate Richie Porte, Joaquim Rodríguez (KAT), Saxo-Tinkoff duo Alberto Contador and Roman Kreuziger plus the three main riders of the telephone squad: Rui Costa and Alejandro Valverde took quality turns in the lead to split the group before Rodríguez, with Nairo on his wheel and Froome alongside them shortly after, jumped with 8km remaining. The Spaniard always kept the lead of the trio, before a move from Froome with only 1.2k from the finish threatened to ruin Quintana’s chances. However, the Colombian reacted with calmness and launched his decisive attack just after the flamme route.
Elated with his arms in the air at the finish, Nairo claimed his fourth success of the 2013 season and Movistar Team’s third in the race -26 to their season tally-, taking two extra prizes: the KOM jersey -for which he will pay another visit to the podium, his white jersey guaranteed already days before- and the 2nd place overall -best ever Latin American performance in the Tour- he will have to confirm tomorrow in the 133 kilometers of triumphant march towards the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Alejandro Valverde closed the brilliant ride from the Blues with his 4th place in the day, climbing up to eighth in the GC.
REACTION / Nairo Quintana: “I can’t believe what has happened, I have no words. I had dreamt of this for a very long time, but didn’t believe it could come so early. I’m just a 23-year-old boy, but time goes fast, and today is a day to cry out of pure happiness. We thought winning the stage was feasible, but I wasn’t as convinced as my DS nor all the team. They’re impressive: they help me so much, especially on the psychological side, to cope with such big challenges. Just all of them: the carers, the technical side, all the riders… they all took me here and I wouldn’t have achieved anything without them. They’re a spectacular group, the strongest of all in the Tour. When Arrieta told me ‘you have to take leadership roles in the team,’ I stood up and said ‘of course.’ I was ready, there was no problem, but I told them they would have to forgive me should my legs fail, because the Tour is so fast and the stages, so long. They said I just had to do as much as I could – I should be calm and go as far as the legs would let me to. But today, we saw I recovered really well from the efforts, and I could pay back to confidence as team leader. This victory goes to Arrieta, the best DS I ever had, and every single member of the team.
What I achieved today is the result of lots of work and the class God and my parents gave me. What I achieved is also a result of my team’s work: only since a year ago, I thought about contesting the Tour overall – I had just turned pro and was contesting my first big races, showing myself to the world. I never thought so big when I was a child – I was just going day by day, and only last year I started thinking about that. People asked me and will surely ask me to win the Tour de France in the Future, and also in Colombia they wanted me to conquer the KOM jersey, which was always essential to us Colombian riders. What happened today makes me really confident and willing to work and give it a try. I want to take advantage from this moment to salute another Colombian who won this jersey in the Tour and is now at home, recovering after his accident in the 2011 Tour de Suisse: Mauricio Soler. He told me he would take care of me from there, and this victory is dedicated to him; best wishes of full recovery, my friend, you’re an inspiration for me to keep going.”