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"After the second stage I was very confident that I could achieve it [win the Tour de San Luis] but I am up against the best climbers in the world. Now I am definitely more humble. I thought that four minutes was sufficient to maintain...

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PHILLIP GAIMON

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TOUR DE SAN LUIS

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24.01.2014 @ 19:56 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Prior to yesterday's queen stage of the Tour de San Luis, Phil Gaimon (Garmin-Sharp) had expressed confidence that his lead of more than 4 minutes over the pre-race favourites would be enough to win the race. After having witnessed an excellent climbing exhibition by Nairo Quintana (Movistar), he now admits that he needs to be more humble and that his advantage is unlikely to be enough.

 

The pre-race favourites in the Tour de San Luis got a scare on the second stage of the race which featured the race's first summit finish when the rider that had stayed away in a breakaway on stage 1, Phil Gaimon, climbed impressively well and only lost 11 seconds to stage winner Julian Arredondo (Trek). The strong showing led the neo-professional Garmin rider to believe that he could actually win a race that has some of the best riders in the world in its line-up.

 

Going into yesterday's queen stage, Gaimon was still more than 4 minutes ahead of the favourites and remained confident that he would be a genuine winner candidate. However, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) proved why he finished 2nd in last year's Tour de France and rode away from everyone else, with only Sergio Godoy (San Luis) finishing within a minute of the strong Colombian.

 

Gaimon lost 4.15 and as he had started the day 4.19 ahead of Quintana, his advantage has now been reduced to a mere 4 seconds. The American now admits that he has had a reality check in the Argentinean mountains.

 

"After the second stage I was very confident that I could achieve it [win the Tour de San Luis] but I am up against the best climbers in the world," he said. "Now I am definitely more humble. I thought that four minutes was sufficient to maintain the leadership. Now we'll see."

 

Quintana knew that he had to make up a lot of time and attacked almost from the bottom of the climb.

 

"The climb was hard, steep, and long but it's the riders who make it tough by attacking," Gaimon said. "First a rider from Movistar attacked at the bottom of the climb. They knew they had the best candidate to win. I did not see the second attack from Quintana because I was behind Danielson who stayed with me all the time.

 

"What kind of climber Quintana is? He is very good, simply the best, his body helps him to be good."

 

Gaimon now faces the 19,2km time trial in San Luis that could potentially see him gain a bit of time ahead of Saturday's final summit finish. At least Gaimon hopes that this will be the case.

 

"I haven't spoken with the team but I am sure that the strategy is to put more time into Quintana," he said.

 

While the win may have slipped out of his hands, Gaimon still has a good chance of a podium spot as he is 1.36 ahead of 4th placed Darwin Atapuma (BMC).

 

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