Giro d'Italia (st. 19)
Movistar Team leader waves doubts away, claims victory in Monte Grappa uphill TT after exciting fight against Aru (AST). Urán (OPQ) now 3′ behind Nairo in GC
PHOTO GALLERY | Nairo’s second stage win in the 2014 Giro
Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) reasserted on top of the Monte Grappa, finish of the 2014 Giro d’Italia’s uphill TT, his dominating condition in the Corsa Rosa by adding a second stage win to the historic triumph earned atop Val Martello. The Colombian rider from the telephone squad, who chose to use time trial bike and helmet in the opening 7km -out of a total 26- of flat through the top of the ascent, switched for conventional gear after losing barely 16″ to Urán (OPQ), his biggest rival for the maglia rosa, in the intermediate check.
From that point on, Quintana proved himself unbeatable. Only Fabio Aru (AST), who made an excellent effort to dispute Nairo the victory, could overshadow his success, the man from Boyacá alread 36″ quicker than Urán with 7k from the finish and more than minute over the rest of the GC contenders. At the top, and with a splendid pace in the closing ramps, he outclassed Aru by 17″, put 1’26” on Urán and left the rest more than two minutes behind, increasing his overall lead to 3’07” on Urán, with Aru now in 3rd at 3’48”.
Quintana claims his 19th pro victory and takes Movistar Team’s season tally up to 16, in a dream Giro for the lads directed by Eusebio Unzué, who will now head into the penultimate battle on Sunday, over the slopes of the infamous Monte Zoncolan (Cat-1; 10km at 11.9% avg). The 167km stage twenty will start in Maniago and feature another two climbs, the Passo del Pura (Cat-2) and Sella Razzo (Cat-2).
REACTION | Nairo Quintana: “I’m really happy today. It was a spectacular day – I felt really great through the TT course. Above all, I enjoyed really much all the crowd supporting me, wanting me to win this. Claiming this stage victory was too important; I didn’t want to say it before the stage, but mountain TTs are my strong point and I had to do it, I couldn’t let this past. Even less after my family came from Colombia to watch me here. They gave me an extra gear. People asked me to leave an impression, and here’s what I had to win the Giro.
“We were really calm as we made the TT bike and helmet change. We knew that the traditional helmet would help me, because it’s lighter and releases sweat better – plus, it would take only a few seconds to make the switch. I was really calm, we prepared for it well and it went perfectly. All the team helped me much to get prepared for this time trial and I owe them much of this victory. I think we offered the fans what they were expecting from me to see in this race. The decisive day comes tomorrow – we’ll see how we control the race, because the important thing is keeping the pink jersey. I’m sure the team will be superb, as they’ve been all race. I came to recon the Zoncolan back in March and I really liked it, though I could see only the first part – the rest was covered in snow. It’s pretty demanding, but that’s the kind of climb I like.
It’s true that we’re pretty much riders from the ’90 class shining here – Aru, Majka – and others not present in the Giro, like Kwiatkowski, are doing well in the mountains, but our main rivals in Grand Tours are really more experienced than us and we’ve got to keep improving to contest their position, yet this is a sign we can fight in the future for these race. I came here to confirm who Nairo Quintana is, to let people see I’m ready to win a three-week stagerace. I was a question mark before this race; now, I’m a confirmation.”