Vuelta a España (st. 16)
Nairo Quintana remains safely in the lead, with no worries through today's route to the coast in Peñíscola, as the Vuelta a España reaches its second rest day
The hangover of Sunday's big day in the mountains of the 2016 Vuelta a España wasn't harsh for the Movistar Team and Nairo Quintana, under terribly hot conditions from the flatlands of Alcañiz down to the coast in Peñíscola, Castellón. Luxembourg's Jempy Drucker (BMC) took a bunch sprint win which Italian Daniele Bennati (TNK) unfruitfully tried to break with a 'finisseur' action into the last 2.5km. Behind, Nairo, well supported until the very finish by the likes of Herrada, Sutherland, Erviti, Castroviejo and Rojas, came home safely in 19th spot, just next to his overall classification contenders.
The 3'37" gap ammassed yesterday atop Formigal against Froome (SKY) remains untouched for Quintana, looking into the final, short week of intriguing stages in the Comunitat Valenciana. A tough uphill finish in the Mas de la Costa (Wednesday); a day for adventurers or fastmen in Gandía (Thursday); the trascendental TT to Calpe on Friday and the agonic 'fête de fin' on Saturday, towards the Alto de Aitana, are the last obstacles between the Cómbita genius and his big aspiration for Sunday: winning his maiden Vuelta a España in Madrid.
Nairo Quintana: "Last night, the whole team really deserved a glass of cava to celebrate, as we did really well, but we had to remain serene after all. It really was needed to rest up well and keep our feed on the ground for today's nerves and the tough, difficult days ahead in the final week of race. Not only Froome will be a rival: there's also Contador – even if he's also trailing behind, he's one you must keep an eye on for the entire race. Also Chaves, the whole Orica block in fact… Nothing should be taken for granted. Heat really stroke us all today in the Vuelta, and it's difficult to cope with it, but everything comes a bit easier when you're in the leader's jersey. I stand heat well, actually, I prefer it to cold, even if I do well on cold, rainy conditions."