Tour de San Luis (st. 6)
Colombian from Movistar Team -3rd atop Filo Sierras Comechingones-, supported by magnificent Nairo Quintana (2nd), evades control of GC leader Eduardo Sepúlveda (FVC), will start Sunday's finale in 'green' on Argentinian soil
Movistar Team made possible what, by virtue of Eduardo Sepúlveda (FVC) exhibition to the lead of the 2016 Tour de San Luis two days ago at the Cerro El Amago, seemed a utopia: taking a green jersey that could turn into the second overall victory in three years for the squad directed by Eusebio Unzué and José Luis Jaimerena. Dayer Quintana is the new leader after a big show of strength and courage over the 2,140m Filo Sierras Comechingones, end of the penultimate stage, combined with magnificent work from the whole telephone squad, especially Nairo Quintana, to carry him on wings towards place number one.
Set up perfectly on the foot of the long final ascent (16.6km) with support from Ventoso, Soler and Moreno, the two Colombians from the Movistar Team had to take their time and resist to initial attacks -a move from Rodolfo Torres (AND) was te most important- due to gusty winds, often making the climb harder, until after halfway through the climb at the Mirador del Sol. There, Nairo Quintana shook up the field, dropped Sepúlveda back and later joined his brother Dayer and fellow countryman Miguel Ángel López (AST). ‘Superman’ would beat the two over the line, with Nairo focusing on his brother losing as little time as possible.
The 19" gap between Dayer, third at the finish, and Sepúlveda, fifth, together with a four-second bonus, mean that the 23-year-old from the Movistar Team will start the 120km stage seven around San Luis with a 20” margin to secure his title. In turn, Nairo Quintana kept the third place he started the day off with – due to the abandon by Rodrigo Contreras (EQS) – yet he will have only 3” against López to repeat his 2015 result.
Dayer Quintana: “It was a hard stage right from the very start, with all the fight for the early break, the heat and the suffering due to the crosswinds – it was a nervous race and the climb was really a hell of a struggle for me. Fortunately, I was really well protected by all my team-mates -Fran, Marc, Dani-, who made sure I reached the final climb in the best possible condition. The strategy was making Sepúlveda suffer so I could drop him back, isolating him and then attack, and thanks to Nairo’s work, I could leave him behind. As well him as Dani Moreno, who knows the place well, gave me a lot of advice. Dani said it was better for me to try and make the moves in the final part of the climb, because otherwise, the winds would blow so much. It seemed like impossible that I could snatch the leader’s jersey, but I’m really close to this win and it’s unbelievable. It’s something I’ve been fighting a lot of time, after I suffered for most of the 2015 season, and I really deserved it – let’s hope I can bring this home. It's a tribute to Adriano – we miss him so much and hope he'll heal fast and feel perfectly well very soon.”