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"I hope I can fight for the podium at least. There are still many stages to take time back. I should take advantage of them. If I still have the sensations I had today, I possibly can make up time."

Photo: Sirotti

ALEJANDRO VALVERDE

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JOSE JOAQUIN ROJAS GIL

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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NAIRO QUINTANA

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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05.09.2015 @ 22:43 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Courage marked the Movistar Team's return to the mountains in the start of a grueling trio of hilltop finishes in the Vuelta a España, with stage 14 covering 215km from Vitoria to the Fuente del Chivo in Cantabria. While José Joaquín Rojas (3rd) featured all day in a five-man breakaway from which Alessandro de Marchi (BMC) attacked to claim the day's honours, Nairo Quintana, well protected for many days by the Movistar Team, showed again his true colours by leaving all GC favourites behind atthe finish.

 

The pace on the climb by Movistar Team's Amador, Ventoso and Moreno was seconded by Astana's Mikel Landa, followed by a strong attack by race leader Fabio Aru. That circumstance served as launchpad for the Colombian, who rode away from the field during the last 2km before trying again, solo, to finish 6th in the stage and 7" ahead of the red jersey. Quintana now sits in 9th overall, exactly 3' down on the lead, while Valverde, who struggled and conceded almost half a minute to his team-mate, now ranks in 7th, 2'11" back. Round two of mountains will come on Sunday, with stage fifteen (175km) ending atop the 12.7km, 8% average gradient Sotres (Cat-1).

 

“It wasn't that good day for me, as the slopes were too steep, but I dug deep until the very end for my team, Eusebio [Unzue], the team-mates. They gave me confidence and freedom to go after my chances but it wasn't to be, because De Marchi was way stronger. Still, I have no doubts that I will try again.

 

"My real characteristic is fighting spirit. Many people are always trying to rate my performance by what I do as a sprinter, but I always said I'm an allrounder, able to fight in every terrain and also work hard for the team leaders, and that's what I tried to do in this Vuelta: helping out Nairo and Alejandro, as well as profiting from those chances to chase stage wins.

 

"Nairo had spent many days struggling before Andorra, but we were silent so our rivals didn't take advantage of that. He was feeling better during breakfast and has shown to be more than recovered on the climb. Let's hope the best for Movistar is yet to come in this Vuelta."

 

"I felt very good," Quintana said. "Yesterday and the last few days were really bad. But apparently the virus passed. I hope I can fight for the podium at least. There are still many stages to take time back. I should take advantage of them. If I still have the sensations I had today, I possibly can make up time.

 

"I have not entirely recovered. I still have a lot of abdominal pain, the stomach is not OK but today I proved that I have very good legs and good feelings. "

 

"It was hard," Valverde said. "The climb itself was not so hard but after so many kilometers at full speed and after two weeks of Vuelta there were going to be gaps even though they were small. Aru attacked well but eventually Nairo managed to take a little bit of time off him. Astana put on a big pace and I was left a bit behind, but the good thing was that Nairo could make up some time and there are two really demanding days ahead, where anything could happen. He's recovering really well and days suited for him are still to come.

 

"Regarding myself, I just hope to be better in Sotres and Alba; the shoulder is working well, it still hurts a bit, but it's no trouble for my performance.”  

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