Splendid stage nine by whole telephone squad ends with authoritarian win by the Colombian -new Maglia Rosa- atop the Blockhaus
Nairo Quintana and the Movistar Team took a step forward in their aspirations to win the 100th Giro d'Italia (photo gallery) as they claimed a convincing win on stage nine, 152km from Montenero di Bisaccia to the Summit of the Blockhaus (Cat-1), which saw the Blue squad taking over the race with an outstanding display.
The labour by Sutherland, Bennati and Rojas, into the flatter sections; Amador, Izagirre and Herrada, taking care of the Colombian and starting the big selection at the foot of the climb; and a superb combined effort from De La Parte and Anacona to shatter the GC group during the ascent, all led to the decisive accelerations from Quintana, which started 7km from the finish and did not end before the Colombian left his whole opposition behind.
Nairo left behind Vincenzo Nibali (TBM) and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), the only ones able to follow his first move, and reached the finish line with 24" over the Frenchman and Tom Dumoulin (SUN), who climbed on his own pace to take 3rd; 41" over Bauke Mollema (TFS); 1' to Nibali and more than 2' over Zakarin (KAT). A crash against a motorbike took three big GC contenders down in Adam Yates (ORS; +4'39"), Geraint Thomas (SKY, +5'08") and Mikel Landa (SKY).
It's the Movistar Team's 25th victory of a record 2017 season for the Blues and also for Nairo, who claims his sixth since February -37 as a pro cyclist- again in astonishing style. The Colombian will have a hard task to tackle on Tuesday at the rolling, 39km ITT stage ten from Montefalco to Foligno; however, a well-deserved rest day is waiting for him first on Monday.
Nairo Quintana: "Such a great day! I wanted to show that both my legs and those of my team-mates were doing great. I feel strong and I'm pleased to see the whole Movistar Team riding this way. All of the boys have been simply outstanding, they worked their hearts out from start to finish, from the very first one to the last, at the exact moment they had to, and that also brings you extra motivation to give your best.
"I knew it was important to open some distance with the biggest rivals before the TT. After my first attack I saw Pinot and Nibali being able to follow, but I continued to make attacks, one after another, until I was able to finally open a gap and carry on. I just gave everything that I had – I'm so happy I ended up winning this stage and also wearing the Maglia Rosa before the rest day. We're really satisfied with the selection we created between the main contenders and taking these seconds on them.
"There's still a long way to go in this Giro. We'll see after Tuesday's TT if these 30 seconds over Dumoulin are many or too few, but for the time being, I'm feeling good, with strong health, good legs, and that's what really matters so early in this race. This victory goes to all Latin American and Colombian fans; to Michele Scarponi, whom I regret so much about his passing; and also my wife and all mothers in their day."
Picture (c): BettiniPhoto.net