Vuelta a España (st. 18)
Nairo Quintana tackles decisive TT in Vuelta a España tomorrow with an aim of keeping his advantage high before Aitana showdown
Heat and nerves were again the biggest rivals for Nairo Quintana and the Movistar Team during stage 18 of the Vuelta a España, a not-so-demanding route -only one Cat-2 climb in the 200km journey between Requena and Gandía- which was nevertheless covered under high temperatures and some gusty winds that were close to breaking the peloton up. Quintana, well supported by team-mates Erviti, Sutherland and Rojas to practically the last 3km, did not have any troubles to finish at the first half of a bunch led home by Denmark’s Magnus Cort (OBE).
Nairo now tackles a trascendental TT on Friday, a 37km parcours between Jávea and Calpe which was sadly affected by fires in the Alicante province for the last few days. The route includes many treacherous sections, with two little climbs in the beginning followed by a never-ending succession of turns and pace changes through the last twenty kilometers. The challenging course promises to balance things for Quintana, who will defend his four-minute gap against Froome (SKY), Contador (TNK) and Chaves (OBE). Over at the fight for the stage win, one from the Blues will have a nice shot: Jonathan Castroviejo, 4th in last month’s Olympic Games time trial.
TT start times: 14.15 Sutherland, 14.58 Herrada, 15.02 Erviti, 15.48 Rojas, 15.49 Castroviejo, 15.56 Fernández, 16.26 Valverde, 16.36 Moreno, 16.56 Quintana (9.56am COL).
Nairo Quintana: “It was a bit nervous today with the slight crosswinds at the end, yet we got through safely, keeping attention and with a strong team that always took care of me. At this point of the race, my legs are still rolling well; you feel the tiredness, which is normal at this point of the season, with all races we went through since January. Let’s hope we can finish this race on a high and complete this challenge I set on myself – starting with tomorrow’s time trial.
“The new Canyon Speedmax TT bike makes me confident, and tomorrow’s route is not really flat; it shouldn’t favour so much my rivals to race a time trial where you’ve got to jump off the saddle, take several turns, change your place… it’s still a downside for me, yet not a big one. I hope I don’t have to eat these words tomorrow, but I’m confident that tomorrow’s lost might not be a matter of minutes, rather than seconds – I’ll lose time for sure, yet I hope it won’t be that much.
“We’re getting closer and closer: another day safe today, the two stages coming up are good for us – more in contrary, those are routes that suit me well – and we will give everything to keep this jersey.”