Vuelta al País Vasco (st. 3)
Quintana climbs into 3rd overall in 'Itzulia' after another day of great support by the Movistar Team, sticks to Henao (SKY) and Rodríguez (KAT) into hellish climb of La Antigua
Nairo Quintana increased his chances of overall success in the 2015 Vuelta al País Vasco into the Itzulia's first big mountain stage, with five rated climbs and lots of tricks into a hellish, final 80km of day three from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Zumarraga. The Colombian rider from the telephone squad responded well to the final acceleration by Henao (SKY) and Rodríguez (KAT), ammassing a short gap against the other main GC favourites after yet another piece of tremendous teamwork from his Movistar colleagues.
Castroviejo, Herrada, Visconti, Antón, Intxausti and the Izagirre brothers were again the best allies their leader could ever wish for. There was specially remarkable workload at the front by Gorka and Ion, competing on home roads and pushing hard after the first climb of La Antigua's gruelling slopes, where the bunch was reduced to only thirty units. Intxausti kept the effort on with his pace before the foot of the second, definitive passage, where the day's last break survivor Lieuwe Westra (AST) was caught after a big action. An agile response to the moves near the top of the hill meant Nairo secured the 3rd place in the stage and an identical third overall, behind Henao and Rodríguez.
“It was a very demanding day – riding with headwinds all day, lots of short climbs and such an explosive finish made it really hard,” commented Quintana to website Biciciclismo after crossing the finish. "I was just thinking about getting over the day without any time loss; it was the only important thing for me today. The finale was pretty tense, and I really didn't stand a chance into the sprint; the other two were stronger than me and the result was obvious. Thursday's stage will be another really important one -the climb towards Arrate, following 162km with seven other categorized ascents-; we will see who takes the responsibility to lead the bunch after the chances in the GC. It's good to have gained time over Kwiatkowski and the other favourites, but it wasn't really much at all."