Quintana keeps recovering after early struggle on Vuelta stage 13, as escapee Rojas finishes in 5th place. Valverde remains 6th overall
Although fever suffered during the previous days and the lack of energy resulting from his illness made him go through a bad start of the day, Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) bounced back to finish safely into the main bunch on stage thirteen -178km from Calatayud to Tarazona-, hit by strong winds and complete with long, difficult climbs in the Moncayo sierra.
José Joaquín Rojas featured in a 24-rider move that didn't break up before the descent of the last climb, as an attack by Nelson Oliveira (LAM) found lack of cooperation from other teams to pursuit, leaving the Spaniard without a chance -5th into the sprint, 1' behind the Portuguese rider-. With Romain Sicard (EUC) and Gianluca Brambilla (EQS) into the escape, 4’48” ahead of the field, the two take Quintana (11th) out of the GC top-ten, in which Alejandro Valverde (6th) remains as he steadily recovers from his shoulder injury.
After a longer-than-usual transfer towards Logroño, this evening, and Vitoria, early on Saturday morning, the race will head into a crucial trio of mountain stages, starting with tomorrow's 215km towards the Fuente del Chivo (HC), via Estacas de Trueba (Cat-3) and the Escudo (Cat-1).
Alejandro Valverde: “You all could see at the start that he was feeling a bit too tired, but later on, he recovered and was doing really well on the last section. These have been extremely difficult days, and you do all you can to stay at the front. I'm still feeling strong, though it's true that the wear and tear of this season is feeling on my legs after the Tour. My shoulder is going better and better and I hope to be in perfect condition for the mountains."