Quintana finishes 2nd behind Contador (TCS) at Route du Sud's Queen stage, after responding to all attacks by the Spaniard into Balès ascent and avoiding crashes against his "risky" descent to Bagnères-de-Luchon
A month and a half after his latest competitive effort in big mountains and following a long recovery period in Colombia, Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) came back into racing showing solid form in the hardest stage of the 39th Route du Sud. The 160-kilometer route included the Cat-1 ascents of Haut-Balestas, Val Louron and Balès en route to the finish in Bagnères-de-Luchon, where the Colombian took the day's 2nd place behind Alberto Contador (TCS).
Supported up to the foot of the climb by a youthful telephone squad -Marc Soler and Dayer Quintana even sticked with him through the first 10k of Balès-, Quintana responded to every single attack proposed by Contador through the final 8k of the climb. Joined by Pierre-Roger Latour (ALM), who had jumped away a bit earlier, the trio crested the climb in search for a fast, technical descent where Contador left Nairo behind, an exciting contest that ended up with a 13-second gap between the Spaniard and the Colombian at the finish.
Quintana is all but certain -pending tomorrow's 166km rolling route from Revel to Gaillac- to take 2nd overall (17" back) in the GC, after two of the biggest candidates for the Tour de France -starting in Utrecht on July 4th- battled against each other in a beautiful race in the Pyrenees.
REACTION / Nairo Quintana: “I'm very satisfied with what I did today; it was a great test, I felt strong. Tinkoff drove a high pace all stage long; it was really like a Tour de France stage, with huge speed all the way. Contador made a strong attack halfway through the climb and I could respond pretty well. At some certain point, he explained me that should I give some turns, he'd let me win the stage. I responded him that I wouldn't take any turns nor attack him. The roads into the descent were gritty, it had no sense to take any chances and lose everything; Contador really made a risky descent. As I said before, I'm happy with how I rode today: my body responded well to the efforts."
Suisse: Break by Anacona (9th) reaches finish in Bern
In turn, a 20-man group dominated the seventh, penultimate stage of the Tour de Suisse in Bern as Pinot (FDJ) lost yet again another handful of secons over the line while still keeping the leader's yellow jersey. A duo led by Alexey Lutsenko (AST) took the win ahead of a pursuit group where Winner Anacona fought for the entire stage and even made it into some shorter attacks.
The Boyacá-born rider, who struggled more into the finale, took 9th place in the eve of the race's showdown, with Adriano Malori combating both the GC favourites and the biggest specialists into a demanding course -38km, exactly the same to today's loop- just one week away from the National championships, two from the Tour de France depart.