Giro d'Italia (st. 14)
Movistar leader responds to great teamwork in Oropa, overcomes health problems as top GC contender on the stage, reducing his gap to countryman Urán (OPQ) by 25 seconds
After two weeks marked by bad weather, misfortune and an ill-timed cold that hampered his performance into the first mountain stages as well as Thursday’s time trial, the Giro d’Italia for Nairo Quintana and the Movistar Team has started seeing the light at the top of Oropa (Cat-1), finishing point of a first Alpine stage that also featuring the ascents of La Serra (Cat-3), Alpe Noveis (Cat-1) and Bielmonte (Cat-2) in the 167km parcours.
The telephone squad made a magnificent job from the very start of the stage, taking care of the Colombian with its full strength at the front of the field. The bunch let a 21-rider breakaway fight for the stage, with four of them reaching the final slope as Enrico Battaglin (BAR) made a powerful final move to claim the win. Between the escape and the big group, a counter-attack went away in the Bielmonte climb, with six riders including Gorka Izagirre, after several attacks by Ventoso and Amador. The Basque rider joined Igor Antón -who led the group halfway through the finishing climb- as Quintana’s best support, the man from Boyacá jumping alongside Domenico Pozzovivo (ALM) to leave the rest of the favourites behind.
Nairo sprinted to the line to gain 4″ over Pozzovivo and Aru (AST); 8″ on Kelderman (BEL) and Majka (TCS); 20″ over Evans (BMC) and 25″ on race leader Rigoberto Urán (OPQ), now 3’04” ahead of his countryman -still 6th overall- before a second consecutive mountain-top finish -third, if not considering the rest day coming on Monday- in Plan di Montecampione. The 19km finishing uphill (at over 7% gradient) will be the only difficulty of stage 15 (225km), completely flat from the start of Valdengo to the foot of the climb.
REACTION | Nairo Quintana: “To be honest, I end the day much happier than in the last few days; feelings are getting better at last. I had better legs today and that’s a good sign for what’s to come. Ever since I crashed I had bad days, especially suffering with that flu that gave me problems for many days. Fortunately, everything seems to be back on track, and today’s stage will give me confidence and calmness for the remainder of the race.
“These 25 seconds to Urán are few to what I’m still trailing by, but they’re useful and show me we can gain time in the mountains. Our race strategy was waiting and seeing what happened, and in the end we proved we can be up-front. It was a matter of staying into alert, against the moves of our rivals, and that’s what we did. I already stated before the Giro that Pozzovivo would be one of the favourites and you can’t let him go one single meter away, because he’s showing to be really strong in the mountains. Tomorrow’s difficulties are all at the end and we will keep the same plan, trying to stay close to the favourites – there’s still a long way to go in this Giro.”