Nairo Quintana Climbs Into The Pink Jersey

quintana_giro_stage16_2014

MILAN, May 27, 2014 (AFP) – Colombian climber Nairo Quintana completed an
epic day of racing on the Giro d’Italia by claiming victory on a
controversy-hit 16th stage and the race leader’s jersey from compatriot
Rigoberto Uran.

Quintana’s hopes of competing for the overall title this year suffered a
blow when he tumbled down the standings to 3min 29sec behind Uran after the
first two weeks of racing.

But on the first of several gruelling days in the mountains in this final
week, the Movistar rider took command of the race Uran and, notably Australian
Cadel Evans, ultimately failed to follow Quintana’s wheel on a rain-hit
descent of the Stelvio climb.

“I did the last climb at my own rhythm but I gave it everything I had,”
said the 24-year-old Colombian.

“Since the start of the season, I think I’ve shown my runner-up place at
the Tour de France (in 2013) was no fluke.

“In this Giro I’ve encountered a few problems but I’ve never lost hope. The
team have been right behind me and kept my confidence intact.”

With three tough climbs on the menu Uran was always at risk of being put
under pressure by the more proficient climbers in the peloton.

But the heavy rain and freezing conditions which prevailed over the first
two climbs — the Galvia (16.5 km) and the Stelvio (21.7 km) — did little to
help the overnight leader’s bid either.

Sky rider Dario Cataldo started hostilities when he attacked from a small
chase group on the way to the summit of the Stelvio, whose 2758 metres summit
is the highest point of this year’s race.

He came over the summit, the road flanked by walls of snow several metres
deep, with a 20sec lead on two or three stragglers with Hesjedal and Quintana
among another group that had managed to pull away from Uran’s main peloton on
the way to the summit. It later emerged their move had been controversial.

Uran’s Omega-Pharma team were among those who interpreted an announcement
by race organisers via race radio to mean the Stelvio descent would be
‘neutralised’ — effectively not raced — because of the poor conditions.

Organisers later claimed they had simply announced they were placing a
motorbike rider, with a pillion passenger waving a red flag, at the front of
the race to warn of any dangers on the road ahead.

Several teams complained after the stage, pointing to a Tweet posted by
organisers, and later erased, that they had understood the race would be
“neutralised”.

But race director Mauro Vegni hit back: “There was never any question of
the race being neutralised.”

Quintana claimed he “did not attack” on the descent and added: “I don’t
understand the reasons” behind the controversy.

“It was raining a lot, I couldn’t see” the red flag, “All I know is he was
supposed to warn us about any dangerous bends.”

Riding conditions worsened on the descent but Quintana, known more for his
skills going up mountains, held his nerve as the chasers kept solo leader
Cataldo in their sights and left plenty of nervous chasers in their wake.

Cataldo began the final, 22 km climb to the finish line with a 1:14 lead on
Quintana, Rolland and Hesjedal and a three-minute cushion on the pink jersey
holder.

But the Italian was soon overhauled as Quintana, Rolland and Hesjedal
pressed on together until they steadily dropped back from the Colombian’s back
wheel.

Hesjedal came over the finish line 7secs in arrears while Uran trailed home
4:11 off the pace and Evans crossed nearly 30secs later.

Quintana, the runner-up at last year’s Tour de France, now leads Uran by
1:41 in the overall standings although the day’s biggest loser was Evans, who
has dropped from second overnight at 1:03 to third overall at 3:21.

Wednesday’s 17th stage is a 208 km trek over rolling terrain from Sarnonico
to Vittorio Veneto.

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Results from Giro d’Italia
following Tuesday’s 16th stage a 139 kilometres ride from Ponte di Legno to
Val Martello:

Stage
1. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 4hr 42min 35sec, 2. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN/GRM) at
8sec, 3. Pierre Rolland (FRA/EUC) 1min 13sec, 4. Wilco Kelderman (NED/BKN)
3:32, 5. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) 3:37, 6. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 3:40, 7.
Rafal Majka (POL/TIN) 4:08, 8. Sebastian Henao (COL/SKY) 4:11, 9. Rigoberto
Uran (COL/OPQ) 4:11, 10. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) 4:48.
11. Robert Kiserlovski (CRO/TRE) 4:48, 12. Jarlinson Pantano (COL/COL)
4:59, 13. Alexis Vuillermoz (FRA/ALM) 6:06, 14. Alexandre Geniez (FRA/FDJ)
7:02, 15. Hubert Dupont (FRA/ALM) 8:50, 16. Winner Anacona (COL/LAM) 9:58, 17.
Dario Cataldo (ITA/SKY) 10:53, 18. André Cardoso (POR/GRM) 11:10, 19. Michael
Rogers (AUS/TIN) 11:15, 20. Maxime Monfort (BEL/LTB) 11:28.
Selected
24. Ivan Basso (ITA/CAN) 17:16,
42. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) 31:35
Did not finish: Michele Scarponi (ITA/AST), Alessandro Petacchi (ITA/OPQ)

Overall
1. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 68hr 11min 44sec, 2. Rigoberto Uran (COL/OPQ)
at 1min 41sec, 3. Cadel Evans (AUS/BMC) 3:21, 4. Pierre Rolland (FRA/EUC)
3:26, 5. Rafal Majka (POL/TIN) 3:28, 6. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 3:34, 7. Domenico
Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) 3:49, 8. Wilco Kelderman (NED/BKN) 4:06, 9. Ryder Hesjedal
(CAN/GRM) 4:16, 10. Robert Kiserlovski (CRO/TRE) 8:02.
11. Alexis Vuillermoz (FRA/ALM) 14:20, 12. Alexandre Geniez (FRA/FDJ)
17:40, 13. Ivan Basso (ITA/CAN) 22:28, 14. Maxime Monfort (BEL/LTB) 22:35, 15.
Matteo Rabottini (ITA/NRI) 24:14, 16. Hubert Dupont (FRA/ALM) 26:37, 17.
Franco Pellizotti (ITA/AND) 28:30, 18. Michael Rogers (AUS/TIN) 35:00, 19.
José Herrada (ESP/MOV) 39:04, 20. André Cardoso (POR/GRM) 39:04.

Selected
24. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) 48:50.

Photo: Corvos

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