Tirreno-Adriatico (st. 4)
Telephone squad’s demonstration into first mountain stage of Tirreno-Adriatico sets Quintana into provisional GC podium after taking 2nd in Selva Rotonda, behind Contador (TCS)
It was an exciting first mountainous round today in the 49th edition of Tirreno-Adriatico, the longest stage in this year’s race (244km) taking the riders from Indicatore to the Selva Rotonda climb in Cittareale, a 14km ascent at 5% average gradient which saw Alberto Contador (TCS) winning in front of a fine Nairo Quintana. The Movistar Team leader on Italian soil responded with his usual style to an excellent labour by the telephone squad, which took command into the bunch through the second of three rated climbs, Forca Capistrello.
The work by the likes of Malori, Capecchi, Amador or an impressive Jonathan Castroviejo strung out the field to leave only 40 riders ahead at the foot of the last climb, reducing distances with the early break to reel them in with 10k remaining. After strong turns from Igor Antón and Amador hiself, Beñat Intxausti added pressure to the other teams’ shoulders with an attack at the 6km to go mark. Quickly responded by Kreuziger (TCS), who would later drop him and open a gap solo, the Basque rider left all protagonism to Nairo, who moved twice into the final two thousand meters and contested all attempts by Porte (SKY), Scarponi (AST) and Contador, the only one able to beat him into the uphill sprint.
Quintana sits now in 3rd place overall, seven seconds off the Spaniard’s pace and 23″ behind race leader Michael Kwiatkowski (OPQ), who will have another hard day ahead to defend himself tomorrow in Guardiagrele, a short, steep ‘wall’ -slopes up to 30%- that will crown a 192km trek also including the gruelling Passo Lanciano.