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“It was a beautiful finish for me. It was only sad that Nizzolo performed better than me. When Cavendish launched Boonen, I saw myself with sort of a chance," Ventoso tells Biciciclismo

Photo: Sirotti

FRANCISCO VENTOSO

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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TOUR DE SAN LUIS

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23.01.2014 @ 14:18 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Despite having had a winless 2013 season, Francisco Ventoso (Movistar) proved that he is still a force to be reckoned with in hard uphill sprints when he finished 2nd behind Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) on the third stage of the Tour de San Luis. The Spaniard was happy with his performance but admitted that the strongest rider had won the race.

 

The same street which saw him claim the best result of his 2013 season, the curved finish in Juana Koslay, was close to becoming Francisco Ventoso's and Movistar's first scene of  celebration in 2014. After Nairo Quintana's third place on Tuesday on the Mirador del Potrero, the Spaniard was only beaten by Giacomo Nizzolo (Trek) on a quite calm day - the longest in the Argentinian race over 176km departing from Tilisarao - that had its turbulent moments due to wind and also included mechanicals for Quintana himself and Beñat Intxausti, both solved without major troubles.

 

Ventoso positioned himself perfectly behind the Omega Pharma-Quick Step train in the closing stages, and his knowledge of the finish allowed him to pass that team's deignated sprinter Tom Boonen and enter the final meters with a chance of winning the stage. However, it was not to be as Nizzolo came fast from behind and Ventoso had to settle for the runner-up position.

 

“It was a beautiful finish for me," he told Biciciclismo. "It was only sad that Nizzolo performed better than me. When Cavendish launched Boonen, I saw myself with sort of a chance. I even overtook him because I saw he was struggling, but Nizzolo came from behind, impressively stronger, and took it easily.

 

"It was a difficult sprint, with headwind into the final 5km, and it was difficult to get things right. It was also a day of intense heat which made a lot of wear and tear on all of us, though it wasn't really that different from a break-chase-sprint story. There were some nervous moment with a couple of echelons created by Omega, though."

 

The second place serves as sort of a relief for the former Spanish champion and big motivation in view of Sunday's finish where he will have another shot at a drought-breaker, 16 months after his last success. The final stage of the race again ends with an uphill sprint that should suit him well.

 

Phil Gaimon (Garmin-Sharp) is still in the lead as Quintana keeps his 7th spot overall on the eve of the first of three defining stages in the South American race: the Cerro El Amago (Category 1; 9.4km at 7.7%) which comes at the end of 168km from Potrero de los Funes.

 

"Now there are some important days ahead," Ventoso said. "We've got Nairo and we have to fight as hard as we can for the overall, protecting him so he only has to open full throttle on the climbs. It's my third time in San Luis and I'm delighted to be here. People are really hospitable and it's a pleasure to start every season here."

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