Tour de France
Nairo Quintana takes Blue jersey onto the Tour de France podium for the first time ever, crowning a colossal race from the Blues, the best squad in the world on stageraces: 16 stage wins in eight consecutive Grand Tours
In the most beautiful venue, in the night of Paris, the symbol of the centenary edition of the world’s biggest cycle race, Movistar Team completed a historic performance in the 2013 Tour de France. The telephone squad paid three visits to the final podium in the Champs-Élysées with Nairo Quintana, runner-up after Chris Froome (SKY) and ahead of Joaquim Rodríguez (KAT) and winner of the ‘à pois’ and white jerseys as King of the Mountains and Best Young Rider. Aged just 23 and debutant in the Tour, the Colombian rider has become the biggest relevation of this year’s French grandtour and got unanimous praise in his country, already a national hero.
However, Movistar Team wasn’t only Quintana in the 2013 Tour. It was also Alejandro Valverde, the squad’s natural leader, with only a mechanical incident keeping him out of the long-dreamt podium he excessed merits to deserve. And Rui Costa, a serial killer who didn’t forgive his rivals to claim two stage victories. And Amador, Castroviejo, Plaza, Erviti, Rojas and, during the first week, Gutiérrez – always helping out Valverde, in the beginning, and Quintana, later into the race. Always attentive at the front, in an unpayable, indispensable duty for the final prize in Paris, the infamous stage 13 -20 minutes lost that day- ruining the Blues’ chances to get all together into the final podium as the best team of the race, an award virtually given by all the media in the race.
The splendid race by Unzué’s squad -which grabs its first KOM jersey in 31 appearances- offers figures to remember in the future: Quintana -the best Latin American finisher ever in the Tour- has claimed the team’s 11th overall podium, joining the victories from Indurain (5), Delgado and Pereiro, the second places by Arroyo (’83) and Zulle (’00) and Perico’s third position in 1989. The white jersey from the young Colombian is added to the three stage victories (two from Costa, one from Nairo), taking the Blues’ victory tally in the ‘Grande Boucle’ up to 31 and keeping alive an impressive record for Movistar, having won in the last eight consecutive GT’s (3 Giros, 3 Tours, 2 Vueltas) with nine different riders -for a total of 16-, a streak that makes the Spanish team the most successful in the world in the last ten seasons.
Eusebio Unzué: “We’re extremely satisfied with this Tour’s results. The last week of the race was truly magnificent, even more after such a bad day as stage 13, when we lost all chances with Alejandro, our natural leader. However, destiny wanted Nairo to reveal himself as such a big rider, taking full responsibility despite being so young. Achieving such a huge success -the second place of the podium, plus the KOM and young riders’ jerseys with Nairo, as well as the two stage wins from Rui Costa- make our overview enormously positive.
“They wouldn’t mean anything in any other person, but the gestures Nairo shows as a 23-year-old boy are a bit surprising – maybe they are more to someone who doesn’t know him more than the ones like us who have been with him since 2012. How seriously takes things, his open-mindness, how he gets to differentiate those crucial moments in the race from trivial moves, and the ability to gain respect into the pro scene so quickly – they all have caught our attention.
“We were a bit concerned because his youth, with such a hard last week coming up, could take massive amounts of energy and it would be hard to recover well every day. However, he told us he was feeling well yesterday, and we raced with the intention of winning the stage. We knew the KOM jersey will come with it, and looking at Nairo’s short margin behind Contador in the overall, he could have been able to surpass him in the GC if he opened a gap. The team worked perfectly, we achieved all goals and that day and the Tour itself are something we will remember for many years.
“I have to talk about bad luck suffered by Alejandro almost in every Tour he has taken part in. This time, he was left out of a podium he proved to be ready for, more than ever. He still reacted well after the mechanical and recovered well from an emotional point of view to keep leading the team while becoming the best domestique and guide for Nairo in crucial moments. He’s responsible for most of what we achieved these day and I thank him so much for that.”