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Storming around the hilly course in 15.45, Quintana beat Chavanel by six seconds in the Route du Sud time trial, with Erviti making it two Movistar riders on the podium; the Colombian is the new leader

Photo: Movistar Team

IMANOL ERVITI

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LA ROUTE D'OCCITANIE

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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NAIRO QUINTANA

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SYLVAIN CHAVANEL

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17.06.2016 @ 18:57 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) proved that he is fully ready for the Tour de France when he claimed an impressive victory in the Route du Sud time trial. In the hilly 13.4km test, he beat specialist Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie) by six seconds and so moved into the overall lead, with teammate Imanol Erviti making it two Movistar riders on the podium.

 

Last week Chris Froome sent a clear signal of intent for the Tour de France by crushing the opposition at the Criterium du Dauphiné. Only one of his expected key rivals was absent from the French race and Nairo Quintana must have been slightly concerned by what he saw as he prepared for his final Tour test at Route du Sud this week.

 

The four-day race in France may be a far smaller event than the big race in the Alps but nonetheless it is now Froome who can start to worry a bit. Known as a pure climber, Quintana again confirmed how much he has improved his time trialling skills as the won today’s TT in the Pyrenean race.

 

Quintana also showed his progress by doing an excellent time trial at last year’s Vuelta and this year he has taken another step, doing excellently in both Pais Vasco and Romandie. However, apart from his mountain time trial win at the 2014 Giro, he had never won a race against the clock in Europe until he turned out to be the fastest.

 

Admittedly, the course had two tough climbs in the first half which clearly suited Quintana’s skills but as the final half was flat, he still needed a lot of power to win the stage. It was definitely no easy affair to come away with the win as he was up against Sylvain Chavanel who has won WorldTour time trials in the past.

 

Chavenel started in the middle of the field and fully lived up to expectations by being the only rider to go below the 16-minute mark. Only Quintana’s Movistar teammate Imanol Erviti got reasonable close but he was 11 seconds off the pace in third place.

 

It soon became apparent that only Quintana could be a threat and the Colombian fully lived up to his own expectations by beating Chavanel by six seconds. To take the win, he only had to wait for the arrival of sprinters Arnaud Demare (FDJ) and Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie). Both did surprisingly well to take fourth and fifth respectively but they were both far behind the strong Colombian.

 

From a GC perspective, there were encouraging rides from Eduardo Sepulveda (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) in 7th, Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis) in 8th, Nicolas Edet in 13th, Daniel Martinez (Wilier) in 15th, Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) in 18th, Julien Loubet (Fortuneo) in 21st, Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) in 23rd and Hugh Carthy (Caja Rural) in 24th. However, they all lost significant time to Quintana who takes the yellow jersey with an 11-second advantage over Chavanel and Coquard.

 

He faces an even bigger test of his form in tomorrow’s queen stage. After a lumpy stat, the riders will tackle the mighty Coldu Tourmalet and the category 2 climb of Col des Bordieres in the second half of the stage. A short descent leads to the bottom of the final ascent, the category 1 Col du Couraduque (15.7km, 5.81%) where Quintana will try to make it two in a row in the French race.

 

A hilly time trial

After the sprint stage in the morning, the riders were back on their bikes for the time trial in the afternoon. The riders covered 13.4km around the city of Albi and it was definitely not a flat affair as there were two pretty hard climbs in the first half. The second half was for specialists and it all ended on the motor circuit in Albi.

 

Lorrenzo Manzin (FDJ) was the first rider to hit the course and he stopped the clock in 17.07 to set an early mark. He led the stage for three minutes until Javier Moreno (Movistar) went six seconds faster

 

Vaugrenard takes the lead

Benoit Vaugrenard (FDJ) set the first serious mark as he crossed the line in 16.28 which was 27 seconds better than Mads Pedersen (Stölting) who slotted into second. His first big threat was Pierrick Fedrigo (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) but the veteran could only manage second with 16.38.

 

Time trial specialist Alexander Serov (Gazprom) got close but he missed out on the lead by five seconds. Julien Duval (Armee) also had a fine ride to take fourth with 16.51.

 

Disappointment for Firsanov

Jerome Cousin (Cofidis) and Blel Kadri (Ag2r) both made it into the top 10 but it was Romain Lemarchand (Stölting) who was the next to make it into the top 5 with a time of 16.54. Sergey Firsanov (Gazprom) had a disappointing ride to take ninth with 17.02.

 

Lilian Calmejane (Direct Energie) confirmed his talent as he posted the third best time of 16.35 before Bruno Arimirail (Armee) went five seconds slower to take fifth. He was quickly pushed into sixth by Rory Sutherland (Movistar) who was one second faster and Imanol Estevez (Euskadi) could also make it into the top 10 with 16.48.

 

Chavanel crushes the opposition

Vaugrenard’s time in the hot seat came to an end when his FDJ teammate Yoann Offredo stopped the clock in 16.26, taking the lead by 2 seconds. While GC contender Sergio Pardilla (Caja Rural) made it into 8th with 16.43, everybody was eagerly awaiting Chavanel’s arrival and the Frenchman didn’t disappoint as he lowered the mark significantly with a time of 15.51.

 

Artem Nych (Gazprom) made it into fourth with 16.31 but for some time, no one managed to make it into the top 10. Jose Herrada (Movistar) finally caused a change when he posted a time of 16.33 to slot into fifth but he had barely caught his breath before Thomas Voeckler (Direct Energie) went one second faster.

 

Great ride by Sepulveda

GC contender David Arroyo (Caja Rural) had a bad ride with 17.27 and instead it was Vegard Breen (Fortuneo-Vital) who showed good form as his time of 16.32 was good enough for fifth. There was disappointment for Arnaud Gerard (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) as he could only manage ninth with 16.35.

 

Climber Daniel Martinez (Wilier) did surprisingly well to take fourth with 16.31 but another youngster, Marc Soler (Movistar), did even better as 16.24 was good enough for second. However, he was beaten less than one minute later when Eduardo Sepulveda stopped the clock in 16.14.

 

Erviti gets close

Another GC contender showed good form as Stephane Rossetto (Cofidis) took third with 16.21 and Flavien Dassonville (Auber) also did well to take seventh with 16.31. However, it was Imanol Erviti (Movistar) who was the first real threat for Chavanel but the Spaniard had to settle for second with 16.02.

 

Anthony Delaplace (Fourtneo) made it into fourth with 16.15 but it was Lluis Mas (Caja Rural) who became the next rider to crack the top 3 with a time of 16.10. Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) proved that he will be one to watch in the mountains as he slotted into 10th with 16.28.

 

While the sprinters rolled in in pretty slow times, everybody was eagerly waiting for Quintana to arrive. As soon as he appeared on the finishing straight, it was evident that he was on a good day and when he crossed the line, he had beaten Chavanel by six seconds. Demare and Coquard both did really well to take fourth and fifth respectively with 16.07 but it was Quintana who could step onto the podium as the stage winner.

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