Vuelta a España (st. 5)
World Champion from Movistar Team one of the strongest at La Vuelta’s first mountain-top finish, just 11″ behind the Colombian. Nairo Quintana loses 54″ against his fellow countryman, yet stays into the GC podium (3rd).
ProConti outfit Burgos-BH stole the show at the top of the Observatorio Astrofísico de Javalambre, end of stage five in the 2019 Vuelta a España -170km from L’Eliana, in the Valencia province, to Teruel-, with a spectacular victory by Ángel Madrazo from the early break ahead of team-mate Jetse Bol. The two, together with José Herrada (COF, 3rd), held off by a slim margin a peloton of GC contenders completely torn apart in the tough slopes of the second half of the ascent.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) was one of the main actors of the big show at the GC group, with a strong attack less than 4km from the top of the climb, which left only Primoz Roglic (TJV), Tadej Pogacar (UAD) and Miguel Ángel López (AST) with him. The Colombian’s counter allowed him opening a dozen seconds over the World Champion, who took 5th place over the line –59″ behind the day’s ganador- and put himself into 4th overall, 28″ behind López. After them finished Nairo Quintana, who lost contact before his team-mate’s attack and finished in 8th, almost a minute behind López but still into the provisional GC podium: he’s now 3rd, 23″ down.
La Vuelta will tackle on Thursday another mid-mountain stage in the beautiful Castellón roads, overcoming the climb of Culla (Cat-3) near the finish of Ares del Maestrat (Cat-3; nearly 8km at 5%).
Alejandro Valverde: “It wasn’t a failure by Nairo. He remains strong and he lost time today, but it wasn’t so much. A failure would be losing five minutes, if you ask me for an example. It was a climb that suited his characteristics well, but you’re not at the same level every single day. I tried to keep pushing, trying not to let ‘Superman’ go too far. López was already the biggest favourite, and confirmed it today. I had legs today, but it doesn’t mean anything – we continue to go day-by-day, and Nairo of course remains our GC contender for the race.”
Nairo Quintana: “Alejandro was strong and we had already talked between ourselves that we had to respect whoever was feeling the strongest of the two. Happily, I didn’t lose too much time, and I hope to get my best legs back – I just didn’t feel great today. As soon as I get back to my previous form, I’ll for sure try to take advantage. I tried to defend myself today, I just lacked a bit of power. After the Tour de France, you don’t know how your body will react. I’ve been rcing on full steam since the start of the season, and it’s normal that there’s some wear and tear at this point of the year.”
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto