Vuelta a España (st. 10)
Big blow into descent of Alto del Moncayo setbacks Nairo’s performance, takes him out of overall top-ten. Brilliant Alejandro Valverde (8th) finishes just 22″ behind Contador, jumps into second GC
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A crash which seriously diminishes his chances… and could have been even worse. Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) suffered an unfortunate incident during the first individual time trial in the Vuelta a España, a demanding, 37km parcours from Vera de Moncayo to Borja. The Colombian crashed into the opening section of the descent of the Alto del Moncayo (Cat-3), which he got through well in the mix against the other race favourites. Blows in his left foot and knee as well as all over his back did not cause serious harm on Quintana, yet kept him around two minutes on the ground before he recovered, got back on his bike and covered with immense courage the rest of the TT. Nairo finished just under four minutes behind the new race leader, Alberto Contador (TCS), who ranked fourth in the day behind Martin, Urán (OPQ) and Cancellara (TFR).
Nairo’s bad luck, down from first to eleventh overall at 3’25”, was slightly compensated with a great performance by his team-mate and friend Alejandro Valverde. The Spanish time trial champion bounced back from own disappointment after the last TT in the Tour de France and finished in 8th spot, just 22″ behind Contador and more than half a minute over Chris Froome (SKY), after a magnificent 2nd place in the first intermediate check which kept him strong into the less favourable, downhill finale. The Spaniard is now in 2nd overall (+27″) and will fight alongside Nairo and his team-mates to get back into more optimistic ways as the race reaches the squad’s home in Navarra on Wednesday. The slopes of San Miguel de Aralar (Cat-1; 11km at 8%) will take stage eleven to an end after 153km also including the Alto de Lizárraga (Cat-3.)
Nairo Quintana: “I was feeling great in the uphill, but at that point of the descent my bike simply did not brake enough. Before the turn, I was tightening my shoe, which was a little bit loose, but I think that didn’t have an effect on my crash. The thing is that I kept breaking for quite long, but it wasn’t enough because the bike didn’t stop, and I crashed. Fortunately, I could avoid having a bigger crash and I did not hurt myself really badly. I’m hurting my left ankle and I also have blows all over my body, but I hope it’s nothing serious. This is cycling. I lost some time and I might be switching to help out Alejandro so we can conquer the overall podium.”
Alejandro Valverde: “I’m happy with myself – we’re staying in second place, really close to Alberto – but it’s a bittersweet taste with Nairo’s crash. I didn’t know anything, I was told when I finished. It’s awful to have such a crash, when you’re in the lead, clocking good times… being the two of us closer in the overall would have been better for our interests, but the only important thing now is that Nairo is still racing – I’m sure he will recover well, even though I’m told it was quite a blow. We’ll keep fighting to do great in this Vuelta.
“This was a time trial like the ones I used to make when I felt well. When conditions are normal, I usually keep close to the main specialists. There were two good phases for me, plus one not so good. The section before the top of the climb, really good. The first part of the descent also went well, but then, into the rest of the descent, I struggled to get back into a good pace. With 12k to go, I started to feel better – I did superb in the last 7k. Losing so few seconds to Alberto and finishing before Froome and Purito is fantastic. I know tomorrow’s finish: it’s a demanding climb, really tough, and I just hope legs respond well. It seems like it’s going to be good weather up there and I hope it plays on my favour.”