STRONG RE­COV­ERY

Quin­tana’s win in Va­len­cia throws some light on his chances of get­ting the Giro-Tour dou­ble

Procycling - - Debrief -

On the face of it, Nairo Quin­tana’s GC win at the Volta a la Co­mu­ni­tat Va­len­ciana looked nar­row, and even com­para­tively soft. He edged out Ben Her­mans of BMC, a good rider but not the cal­i­bre of op­po­si­tion he’s go­ing to face as he tack­les an op­ti­mistic Giro-Tour dou­ble at­tempt. The fi­nal gap be­tween them was 13 seconds. Noth­ing for Nibali, Aru, Froome et al to worry about in the Grand Tours.

How­ever, Quin­tana was com­pet­ing in the five-day stage race hav­ing ceded a head start of one minute – his Mo­vis­tar team hav­ing con­ceded 62 seconds to BMC in a 38km open­ing team time trial. Mo­vis­tar only came fourth in the test, also con­ced­ing time to Sky (who were 21 seconds be­hind BMC) and Quick-Step Floors (who lost 49 seconds). Both teams had strong climbers in Wout Poels and Dan Martin re­spec­tively, so Quin­tana could have been forgiven for not fo­cus­ing too hard on the GC. How­ever, the Colom­bian started to chip away at his dis­ad­van­tage im­me­di­ately. Tony Martin, rid­ing for his new team Ka­tusha-Alpecin, won the next stage solo, but Quin­tana was in a group of six more rid­ers who’d opened up an ad­van­tage of eight seconds on the main group. That took him up to 10th place in GC al­ready, 54 seconds in ar­rears, although with four Quick-Step rid­ers, four BMCs and a Sky rider still ahead of him, he looked out­num­bered.

Quin­tana did the rest of the job on the steep Mas de la Costa sum­mit fin­ish on stage four. He at­tacked on his own, and no­body could even think of fol­low­ing. In just four kilo­me­tres, he opened a 40 sec­ond gap on the even­tual stage run­ner-up, Mer­hawi Kudus, 48 seconds on Poels and 1:07 on Martin and Her­mans, who had started the day as strong favourites to win the GC. Other es­tab­lished Grand Tour favourites were even fur­ther back: Steven Krui­jswijk, who was one piece of bad luck from win­ning the Giro last year, con­ceded 70 seconds and Il­nur Zakarin lost 1:25.

Quin­tana has set him­self one of the tough­est chal­lenges in cy­cling – the GiroTour dou­ble, and he hasn’t even won the Tour be­fore. He was chas­tened by his de­feat at the Tour last year, but gal­vanised by his Vuelta win. The dou­ble looks im­pos­si­ble, but he has won five of his last seven stage races (Catalunya, Ro­mandie, Route du Sud, Vuelta and Va­len­ciana) and fin­ished on the podium of the other two (Basque Coun­try and Tour). No­body can ar­gue with his con­sis­tency or po­ten­tial bril­liance – two things he’ll need for this am­bi­tious dou­ble.

Quin­tana clawed back a large de icit to take a win in Va­len­ciana

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