Tirreno-Adriatico (st. 5)
Quintana completes impressive climb through Terminillo, Tirreno-Adriatico's mountain-top finish; seizes Maglia Azzurra with two days from end of Italian race
Nairo Quintana blew apart the Tirreno-Adriatico overall classification as he claimed the first victory of his 2015 with one of his best performances since he jumped into the WorldTour with the Movistar Team. The Colombian climber is the new leader of the Italian race after a splendid performance through the Terminillo, only mountain-top finish of the 'Corsa dei Due Mari', after a long, 194km stage five in cold, rainy, even snowy conditions in the finale, all the way from the start in Esanatoglia, in the heart of the Appennines.
Jesús Herrada entered into the early break of the day to release the Movistar Team from any responsibility on the chase and add calmness to a group which protected Quintana perfectly: firstly with Malori and Ventoso into the flat, then over the climbs with Moreno, Amador, Castroviejo and a remarkable Giovanni Visconti. The Italian went after the first moves into the favourites' group, 7 km from the finish, and anticipated the move by Nairo, with 4.8km remaining. A double acceleration by the Colombian, initially to open a gap then to avoid any counter attacks, launched him into a prodigious cavalcade, opening gaps meter by meter to amass a 41-second over Bauke Mollema (TFR), his nearest rival; fifty-five seoncds over the main group including Rodríguez, Urán or Contador; and a minute and a half against former race leader Wout Poels (SKY).
It's Nairo's 23rd victory in the pro scene -23 years after Lucho Herrera's victory atop Terminillo in the 1992 Giro d'Italia- and the ninth this season for the Movistar Team, which will take their hearts out to defend his Maglia Azzurra tomorrow in the long (210km), yet gentle stage six from Rieti to Porto Sant'Elpidio. Nairo's gap is presumably strong enough to keep him into a confident defense on Tuesday, into the TT showdown (10km) in San Benedetto: 39" to Mollema; 48" over Urán; 1'03" to Contador.
REACTION / Nairo Quintana: "I'm really happy. Claiming my first win of the season and doing it that way made me feel over the moon – that's why I celebrated like that. It was a very fast stage, difficult to handle, especially with the cold conditions, but thanks to my team, who supported me all the way, always helping out, I could reach the final climb with the energy I needed and take my tactics to fruition with that final attack. I want to thank them immensely for their support and dedicate this victory to them, as well as my family, for all the joy they bring to me. There was an instant, with 5k to go, when I saw myself feeling especially well, looked around and couldn't see anyone showing strong enough to follow me. I jumped away in those two occassions, I saw no one could follow me and kept pushing until the very end. There's still one long road stage on our way – let's hope we don't come across any difficulties there, so we can fight into the TT to defend this jersey."