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Having responded to Quintana’s first attack, Diaz dropped his Colombian rival and put in a stunning display to win the big mountain stage to Cerro el Amago and extend his overall lead

Photo: Sirotti

DANIEL RICARDO DÍAZ

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NAIRO QUINTANA

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TOUR DE SAN LUIS

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22.01.2015 @ 22:36 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Daniel Diaz (Funvic) confirmed his status as he strongest rider in the Tour de San Luis when he took a hugely dominant victory in the big mountain stage to Cerro el Amago. The race leader first responded to an attack from defending champion Nairo Quintana (Movistar) before he made his own move to distance all his rivals significantly and take a beautiful solo win, extending his overall lead in the process.

 

In 2012 Daniel Diaz first made the world aware of his talents when he finished second in the Tour de San Luis. One year later he won the event and it seemed that the door to the professional cycling world was open for the talented Argentinean.

 

Due to a failed title defence, he disappeared from the radar but now he is firmly back in the spotlight. After his excellent solo win in the first mountain stage of the 2015 Tour de San Luis, he put in an even more dominant showing to win the fourth stage which had a big mountaintop finish on the Alto del Amago.

 

One year ago Nairo Quintana had laid the foundations for his overall victory by winning on the climb but this year the Colombian was unable to repeat that performance. In fact, he was significantly beaten by an incredible Diaz who proved to be in a class of his own.

 

After Funvic and Movistar had set the tempo on the lower slopes of the climb, Quintana made the first move to whittle the front group down to just four riders: the Movistar leader, Diaz, Rodolfo Torres (Colombia) and Diaz’ teammate Alex Diniz. However, Diaz quickly made his own move and after Quintana had initially tried to follow, the defending champion had to let the race leader go.

 

From there, it was a solo show, with Diaz constantly increasing his advantage over his three chasers. When he reached the finish, he had distanced them by almost a minute and had plenty of time to celebrate his dominant performance.

 

Behind, Quintana did his best to limit his damage but when he hit the final 1.5km that were slightly descending, Diniz put in an attack that slightly distanced the Movistar leader. Diniz made it a 1-2 for the small Funvic team while Torres completed the podium ahead of Quintana.

 

With the win, Diaz extended his overall lead over Torres to more than a minute and so he has a comfortable buffer going into the next big test. Tomorrow he will be in less familiar terrain when he tackles the mostly flat 17.4km time trial that precedes Saturday’s big queen stage.

 

A big summit finish

After yesterday’s sprint stage, it was back into the mountains for stage 4 of the Tour Down Under which brought the riders over just 142.5km from Villa Dolores to the top of the mighty Alto del Amago climb. The first part was completely flat but in the finale, the riders first tackled a small category 3 climb before they went up the 10km mountain. The summit was located just 1.5km from the finish from where it was a fast downhill to the line.

 

The riders again took the start under beautiful sunny conditions but one rider was notably absent. Sergio Godoy (San Luis) who finished third last year, broke his collarbone in a crash yesterday and had to abandon the race.

 

The break is formed

As usual, the race started very aggressively as lots of riders were keen on going on the attack. A break was finally established when Giacomo Berlato (Nippo Vini Fantini) – who was also in yesterday’s break – Juan Pablo Valencia (Colombia), Juan Esteban Arango (Colombian National Team) and Dario Diaz (San Juan) got clear.

 

The quartet worked well together to build a big advantage that quickly reached 5.25. When Diaz beat Arango and Valencia in the first intermediate sprint, the escapees had even extended their gap to 7 minutes.

 

The peloton starts to chase

Finally, the peloton decided to initiate a chase and they slowly reduced their deficit. At the 100km mark, the gap was down to 5 minutes and when Diaz beat Valencia and Arango in the second intermediate sprint, the escapees were only 3.40 ahead.

 

At the bottom of the first small climb, the gap had been reduced to just 3.14 and it was clear that the break would not survive. Diaz was dropped on the ascent but the three remaining escapees pressed on, with Valencia leading Berlato and Arango over the top.

 

Quintana makes his move

At the bottom of the main climb, the three riders were 2 minutes ahead of the peloton that was being led by Movistar and Funvic. Arango quickly dropped his two companions and pressed on alone.

 

Quintana launched the first attack and he split the group to pieces. Only Diaz, Alex Diniz (Funvic) and Rodolfo Torres (Colombia) could match his pace and the quartet passed the fading Arango.

 

Diaz drops his rivals

Diaz didn’t wait long to launch his attack and this time only Quintana managed to follow him. However, the Giro champion was on his limit and when Diaz went again, the Colombian cracked.

 

Diaz quickly distanced his main rival who dropped back to Diniz and Torres. At this point, however, the trio was already 35 seconds behind and they continued to lose ground all the way to the top where Diniz took the most beautiful solo win of his young career.

 

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