Route du Sud (st. 1)
Nairo Quintana makes an exhibition on flat stage one in the Route du Sud: spends 150 km into the break, against the wind; tests his legs together with local Quentin Jauregui (ALM). Coquard (DEN) takes first lead, Rojas finishes 3rd
He stated before the start: "I want to make some efforts to see how things stand for me." No sooner said than done as Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) went on a long breakaway during the opening stage of the Route du Sud -197km between Saint-Pons-en-Thomières and Bessières-, at the front for three quarters of the route together with four other escapees which he tortured until there was only one companion left, Frenchman Quentin Jauregui (ALM). Looking for legs, good sensations and some racing form, the Boyacá rider spent 150km at the front.
The telephone squad leader's adventure, who held more than 11 minutes of advantage at points of the race, was over with 45km to go as Direct Energie and FDJ controlled the bunch to secure a bunch sprint, won by Bryan Coquard with a fine José Joaquín Rojas in 3rd place. The five-second bonus obtained by Nairo into intermediate sprints puts him in 3rd overall, which ensures him -as well as 'Rojillas' (4th)- a favourable position, almost at the end of the list, for Friday's TT (14km) in Albi, end to the day's double sector -a 92km road race is scheduled for the morning-.
"I went to the start pretty excited to get going", explained Nairo after the stage (video). "The break went away and we went for it, looking to test our legs for a big and see if we could experiment a bit. When we saw we had a gap, we decided it was worth to keep going – and it ended up being a long one. A good training and also some fun!"
Picture ©: Maxime Lafage & Henri Jean – La Route du Sud