Colombian loses 12" to Henao and Rodríguez after jumping into final ascent of Aia, drops back to 4th overall in Itzulia as excellent Ion Izagirre keeps his 8th place
The three climbs of Aia became quite a strategical challenge for the Movistar Team on stage five of the Vuelta al País Vasco, over 155km starting at Eibar. The squad directed by Eusebio Unzué played its cards intelligently to keep all chances alive in the GC after a move put all contenders into alert: a jump from Michal Kwiatkowski (EQS), with team-mates De La Cruz and Martin leading the Polish rider out from the day's original break -a massive, 31-rider group including Igor Antón and Giovanni Visconti-, which reached up to 40 seconds over the main field.
The Movistar Team, which had already launched the pace with Gorka Izagirre and Jonathan Castroviejo into the first passage over the gruelling 28% slopes of Aia, kept pushing later on with Herrada, Intxausti and a stellar Ion Izagirre, able to give everything for Nairo in the last two climbs and still finish 16th -eleventh within the GC contenders- to stay in eighth overall, 28" behind Sergio Henao (SKY). In turn, Quintana attacked with 1km from the finish, but the greater strength of Henao and Rodríguez made him lose 12" across the line to slip back to 4th, the place from which he'll start tomorrow the 18km TT showdown in Gipuzkoa.
REACTION / Nairo Quintana (via Biciciclismo): “There are stages too explosive for me, 'walls' that suit my rivals better. The important thing is I didn't lose much time and I'm still into the fight for the podium. The win looks a bit harder to achieve for me now, though everyone's pretty much close to each other. The pollen is affecting me a lot, but let's not make excuses with that; our rivals have been riding strong and respectably. As I stated before the race, we must not understimate our rivals, because everyone trains and prepares himself at 100%. Still, my team-mates were excellent: sometimes you win, sometimes you don't, but they were immense again today."