NAIRO QUINTANA MOVISTAR
The Colombian’s victory at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana was expected. His total domination on the Mas de la Costa, the 4.3km, 12.7 per cent average gradient concrete road into the cool Castellon sky was perhaps less so. With that 40-second win came the GC. Quintana has a habit of setting a high benchmark at the season’s get-go. Between 2014 and 2016 he raced out of the blocks at the Tour de San Luis, winning it once and finishing on the podium twice. Then he would take all of February off and re-emerge at Tirreno or Catalonia. This year, though, he did a couple of the Challenge Mallorca races, the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana and then went on to the Abu Dhabi Tour in late February. If attendance of the latter looks odd, it’s because his boss Eusebio Unzue thinks it will help the 27-year-old sharpen up his skills on the flat and in crosswinds where he unravelled at last year’s Tour.