Paris-Nice (st. 7)
Consistency from Colombian climber allows Movistar Team leader finishing alongside new yellow jersey holder Bernal (SKY), become 3rd overall in ‘Race to the Sun’ before Sunday’s hilly showdown around Col d’Eze.
As solid as ever, always one of the best climbers in the world, Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) took advantage from the terrain best suiting him, the long ascent of the Col de Turini (15km at 7.3% avg.) during Saturday’s Queen stage in the 2019 Paris-Nice, to claw back three places overall and reach a GC podium still wide open before Sunday’s classic, demanding hilly test around the city in the Côte d’Azur..
After Héctor Carretero joined the winning, massive 39-man break -with its four final ‘survivors’ contesting the win in Daniel Martínez (EF1, 1st), Miguel Ángel López (AST, 2nd), Nicolas Edet (COF, 3rd) and Simon Yates (MTS, 4th)-, the Spaniard sought to help Nairo by waiting for a move by Winner Anacona in the Côte de Pelasque (Cat-1), trying to play a one-two punch with Quintana which Sky’s pace didn’t allow.
As Bob Jungels (DQT), Luis León Sánchez (AST) and yellow jersey holder Michal Kwiatkowski (SKY) cracked against the purest climbers, Quintana sticked to his countryman Egan Bernal (SKY) and gained a crucial seconds which took him up to 3rd overall, after Egan and Philippe Gilbert (DQT) – who came tantalizingly close to the race lead after joining the morning escape.
Nairo and his Movistar team-mates -with some good protection by Roelandts and Erviti early on and Soler’s support until halfway through the last climb- will seek for any place on the podium at Sunday’s prestigious, nervous 110km showdown around Nice. There will be six climbs and no respite before the decisive Col d’Eze (Cat-1) and Quatre Chemins (Cat-2), the final ascent before a short descent into the legendary Promenade des Anglais.
REACTION / Nairo Quintana:
“Considering the performance level our rivals have shown, and having been able to remain with the strongest into the climb, I feel calm and confident because I could confirm everything we’ve done so far for the biggest races works well. We all could see how Sky’s pace was too strong to try anything, but on the other hand, they let such a strong break go far and even risk losing the GC against Gilbert. We tried to set up a strategical move (with Winner) to go on the attack, but as I stated before, Sky’s pace was too fast and we couldn’t do other but follow their pace and try to reach as far as possible. In such conditions, I knew that gaining time (on Bernal) would be pretty difficult, and my heart was beating so fast when we made the final move, so I just tried to be with him and get to the podium. Let’s see if we can build from that tomorrow and play our cards wisely in Nice.”
Cover picture (c): Roberto Bettini / BettiniPhoto.net