Tour de San Luis (final stage)
Nairo Quintana rounds off final success at 8th Tour de San Luis in Argentina; Blues claim two stage wins plus overall victory with the Colombian
There couldn’t have been a better result for Movistar Team in the 8th edition of the Tour de San Luis, the most important stagerace in South America. Nairo Quintana had no troubles during the final day of the Argentinian event -148km from the province’s capital to Terrazas del Portezuelo, with a final mass sprint won by Sacha Modolo (LAM) as Fran Ventoso took 15th place- to claim overall honours. Quintana beat American Phil Gaimon (GRS) -whom he was able to take back the four minutes he ammassed with his solo victory on stage one- and countryman Julián Arredondo (TFR).
The Movistar Team rider proved to be the strongest into the climbs with his exhibition atop the Cerro El Amago on day four, and kept things under control on Saturday at the Mirador del Sol. His notable performance at Friday’s flat ITT in San Luis -where the Blues conquered their second success with newcomer Adriano Malori- confirmed supremacy into a race where the telephone squad got back into winning ways three years after the late Xavi Tondo notched up Movistar’s first-ever win -the 2011 TT- under Telefónica’s sponsorhip, for 2nd overall.
Away from misfortune suffered by their team-mates in the Tour Down Under -with serious crashes for Visconti and Rojas plus stomach problems from Gutiérrez-, the fantastic effort by Quintana, Intxausti, Ventoso, Amador, Malori and Lastras allows the Movistar Team chain three seasons in Blue (out of four) with their victory account unblocked already in January.
Nairo Quintana: “It’s an important win when it comes to motivation for the rest of the year. I didn’t make any specific training for the beginning of the season, though we had expected to start a bit stronger than last year. I had no major problems during my preparations and I felt really well throughout the race. I had a bad day on the opening one with that pain in my stomach, but fortunately, I could get over the day and I recovered from that afterwards. I must thank everyone at the team, because they believed in me from the very first day and protected me all the way to the end of the race. That’s crucial, because though you feel strong, you end up paying your efforts if you have no strong team-mates – they make things much easier. My calendar is still to be decided – it will pretty much depend on if we ride the Giro or the Tour. For the time being, I’m only thinking about getting back to Spain for the season launch with my team-mates, and after that, flying quickly to Colombia to witness the birth of my daughter, Mariana, which is due for the first days of February.”
José Luis Jaimerena (DS): “To be honest, our feelings on this week’s results are impossible to beat. We didn’t come here with a clear goal of fighting for the overall win, especially because you don’t have references about your rivals in these early-season events. We didn’t got to a good start because we thought stage one was going to come down to a sprint and that breakaway almost cost us all the race. Add to that what happened with Nairo’s stomach problems – we were happy to get through the day with him. He went through pretty bad moments, but the man had the guts to get over it and he ultimately recovered in the following days. We didn’t have any references about Gaimon, but looking at how he had defended himself into the first mountain stage, it seemed difficult to take four minutes back from him. Nairo felt really well before El Amago and jumped from its foot. The team was phenomenal afterwards, always bringing him what he needed. Malori won the TT; Amador and Intxausti, even with the Basque’s stomach problems in the beginning, were always with Nairo; Lastras did his thing as usual; Ventoso performed really well… Starting the season this way is always important, especially for the team’s moral. Even more this year, with all the bad luck we’ve suffered in Australia. I hope we could balance the overview on this month after such misfortune.”