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“On the Mirador del Potrero, the race leader climbed really well and the ascent was shorter and less steep. The Cerro El Amago was different, because it's a longer climb, a more demanding one and covered in wrinkled cement. That&#...

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NAIRO QUINTANA

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TOUR DE SAN LUIS

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24.01.2014 @ 19:07 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Nairo Quintana got his 2014 season off to the best possible start when he rode away from everybody else and almost overcame an almost insurmountable 4-minute deficit to overall leader Phil Gaimon (Garmin-Sharp). Having attacked right from the bottom of the final climb, Quintana benefited from the fact that the ascent was much harder than the one he had encountered on stage 2.

 

Nairo Quintana made predictions right and proved again his impressive climbing abilities to make for a brilliant opening to Movistar's 2014 season. The Colombian rider offered a great exhibition on the ascent of the Cerro El Amago, the highest climb of the 8th Tour de San Luis and second mountaintop finish of the race after a 169km stage 4 starting at Potrero de los Funes. Always well protected by his team-mates Francisco Ventoso, Pablo Lastras and Adriano Malori in the opening flat part, he asked his teammates Andrey Amador and Benat Intxausti to up the pace right from the bottom of the final climb and immediately showed his intentions.

 

Quintana found himself in a difficult position going into the stage as stage 1 winner Phil Gaimon who had finished off a long breakaway, had showed impressing climbing skills on stage 2's summit finish on the Mirador del Potrero. With more than 4 minutes still to make, the Colombian knew that he had to launch an early attack and that's what he did.

 

Local rider Sergio Godoy (San Luis) managed to stay on his wheel for a couple of kilometres but with 4km to go Quintana was the lone leader of the race. He finished the stage 4.15 ahead of Gaimon and reduced his deficit to just 4 seconds with a mountaintop finish still to come.

 

“On the Mirador del Potrero, the race leader climbed really well and the ascent was shorter and less steep," Quintana said. "The Cerro El Amago was different, because it's a longer climb, a more demanding one and covered in wrinkled cement. That's why I could open a bigger gap.

 

"I made my move and climbed strongly," he added. "The team was crucial for my performance, they were always at my side, early with the chasing work and then on the climb where they split the bunch to pieces. They were sensational. This victory is dedicated to them, to my wife, my parents and my baby, who is about to be born and is the most beautiful thing in my life. He was a motivation for me and made for a special day - I felt really strong.

 

"The team was strong and worked all day beside me. If I could have taken over the leader's jersey today I would have. I felt really good after having some stomach problems [earlier in the race]."

 

With Saturday's summit finish still to come, Quintana is now the odds-on favourite to win the race but first he faces today's 19,2km time trial. Gaimon's abilities in the discipline is a bit of an unknown and so Quintana was cautious when asked to assess his chances.

 

"It would have been spectacular to take over the leader's jersey, but we'll see what happens tomorrow," he said. "I'm doing well, but I didn't train TT's specifically yet this year and we will be using the Canyon bike for the first time. Knowing which team he rides for, Gaimon will surely do well tomorrow. He'll have a strong team for the remainder of the race, too - it will be a matter of waiting for our chance and taking advantage of it."

 

Quintana still hasn't decided whether he will do the Giro or the Tour and hinted that he may be feeling a bit too good at this early time of the season.

 

"I feel I'm a nine [on a scale of 1 to 10], I feel really good," he said. "I need to slow down my training a little bit to wait and see which of the Grand Tours I'm going to do."

 

Quintana is 1.11 ahead of Marc De Maar (Unitedhealthcare) who is 3rd on GC.

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