Nairo Quintana controls main rivals at Monte Zoncolan after splendid Movistar teamwork, keeps pink jersey with just one day left till Giro's 'grande finale' in Trieste
PHOTO GALLERY | The beauty of the Zoncolan
The final mountainous hurdle for Nairo Quintana and the Movistar Team in the 2014 Giro d’Italia is now behind with the best possible result. The slopes of the Monte Zoncolan, the steepest climb on pro cycling in mainland Europe, saw the leader of the telephone squad reaching its top again ahead of all the main favourites for the overall success in the last day of one-on-one fight. The Colombian and all his team-mates made difficult things look easy in the 167km stage twenty, started at Maniago.
Responsibility in the bunch was put, as usual in the third week of this year’s Giro, on the shoulders of the riders directed by Eusebio Unzué. All of them fulfilled their tasks to perfection. Ventoso, Malori and Amador kept the pace during the Passo del Pura (Cat-1) and the Sella di Razzo (Cat-2), the two climbs leading to the 10km ‘wall’ in the end. With nineteen riders fighting for the stage into the breakaway, more than eight minutes ahead, the Movistar riders tackled the start of the ascent in amazing style, Amador and Jonathan Castroviejo almost splitting the group. Through the steepest slopes, it was the turn for Igor Antón to put a suffocating rhythm into the group, which neutralized the only real attempt of the GC contenders -made by Kiserlovski (TFR)- and shrunk the field to just seven riders. As Poels (OPQ) took command in the group in favour of Urán, Quintana sticked to his fellow countryman’s wheel and followed the pace with no troubles till the last kilometer, where he added an extra gear which made him reach the finish solvently.
Eight urban laps of a circuit in Trieste -completing a total 172km from Gemona del Friuli- will take the curtain down to a Corsa Rosa which Nairo leads with 3’07” over Urán, 4’04” to Aru (AST) and almost six minutes ahead of Rolland (EUC). The Movistar Team’s dream of winning a Grand Tour again after five years -Valverde, ’09 Vuelta- is just around the corner.
REACTION | Nairo Quintana: “Some tears did come to my eyes when I got onto the podium. I’m really happy. I’m about to clinch a really important goal in my life, about to win in such a beautiful place, with all the fans, as well as Italians, Colombians… as from other parts of the world – I’m just super proud. We’ve got this 99% sealed now. There’s just the last stage left tomorrow, which we know is relatively flat, and as we saw today, the team is also really strong. We hope to round off this excellent Giro confirming the results and raising our arms through the last finish line.
“Zoncolan was pretty demanding, ‘impegnativo’, as they say here. Racing pace was high all these days and the riders came really tired into the last climb. We’re happy with this success, all of us into the team. In the end of the first week and the beginning of the second, I was very much ill, frightened that I couldn’t fulfil the expectations, I went through some ‘transition’ stages and struggled a bit, but I did my best to recover and my body is now OK. We’ve got the maglia rosa on our shoulders and a pretty large gap over second place – I’m calm.”