Pro­tect­ing Quin­tana the pri­or­ity, says Iza­girre

New Straits Times - - Sport -

PESCHICI (ITALY): Gorka Iza­girre said de­liv­er­ing Colom­bian team­mate Nairo Quin­tana to vic­tory in the 100th Giro d’Italia re­mains the pri­or­ity as he se­cured his maiden grand tour vic­tory on a thrilling eighth stage on Satur­day.

Iza­girre, of the Mo­vis­tar team, was handed a rare break from keep­ing Quin­tana pro­tected and away from the pit­falls of the three-week race.

And the Basque all-rounder seized the day, cap­ping a fast and fu­ri­ous 189km ride from Molfetta to the stun­ning hill­top town of Peschici with a fi­nal spurt that held off Ital­ian Gio­vanni Vis­conti by five sec­onds.

In do­ing so, Iza­girre fol­lowed in the foot­steps of his more fa­mous younger brother Jon Iza­girre, 28, who claimed his maiden grand tour win with stage 16 vic­tory at the 2012 Giro.

But the 29-year-old Iza­girre in­sisted stay­ing fresh over the re­main­ing 13 stages of the race, which fin­ishes in Mi­lan on May 28 after a pun­ish­ing third week in the high moun­tains, comes first.

“I won to­day due to the cir­cum­stances, but our goal is still to win the Giro with Nairo Quin­tana,” Iza­girre in­sisted.

Quin­tana, the 2014 cham­pion who won last year’s Vuelta a Es­pana, is among sev­eral favourites ex­pected to loosen Bob Jun­gels’s grip on the pink jer­sey late yes­ter­day when the pelo­ton race to the sec­ond sum­mit fin­ish at Block­haus.

The Quick Step team leader bounced back from a crash on a down­hill sec­tion to fin­ish with the chas­ing pelo­ton at 12secs be­hind Iza­girre.

The Lux­em­burger is ex­pect­ing to come un­der at­tack, but warned he will be a force to be reck­oned with in another im­por­tant bat­tle for con­trol of the pink jer­sey — a rolling 39.8km time trial to­mor­row.

“Now, ap­par­ently the big bat­tle be­gins. To­mor­row I ex­pect a hard fi­nale to the Block­haus. It’ll be time for favourites to show them­selves,” said Jun­gels, who holds a lead of six sec­onds on Bri­tain’s Geraint Thomas of Team Sky.

As well as Quin­tana’s Mo­vis­tar team, Jun­gels and Quick Step will be wary of Sky and the Bahrain team of de­fend­ing race cham­pion Vin­cenzo Nibali. AFP

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