Giro d'Italia

Quintana averts disaster, comes up with seconds

Nairo Quintana averted disaster in a late-race crash Sunday, and bounced back to take a finish-line time bonus on Giro's 15th stage.

BERGAMO, Italy (VN) — Nairo Quintana (Movistar) averted disaster in a late-race crash Sunday, and bounced back to take a finish-line time bonus on stage 15.

That’s how Quintana rolls. Even when he’s down, he’s straight back up, looking for an advantage.

“I’m a little banged up, but I am OK,” Quintana said at the line. “The team helped me get back to the favorites, and I was able to finish off the stage nicely.”

Quintana dodged a bullet when he slipped out on a right-hand corner, and escaped with relatively minor cuts and scrapes. The crash on the descent of the Cat. 3 Miragolo San Salvatore must have evoked memories of Quintana’s crash while leading the 2014 Vuelta a España. Unlike that spill, when he crashed out, Quintana rebounded to finish second in Sunday’s stage.

That could not be said for Tanel Kangert (Astana), who struck a signpost after sweeping through a traffic circle even later in the stage. He abandoned the Giro with a broken elbow after starting the stage seventh overall at 4:55 back.

“We overcame a tough moment with the crash on a complicated day with ups and downs, on a narrow final climb with a lot of fans on the road,” Quintana said. “I initially was riding on a teammate’s bike, but decided to stop and change back to mine. My ‘chicos’ got me back to the bunch.”

Quintana, however, had a funny way of paying back Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) when the pink jersey gestured to slow down the bunch to wait for Quintana to come back on with about 35km to go.

Perhaps Quintana didn’t realize it, but the Giro’s pink jersey indicated to the rivals to ease up to allow Quintana to regain contact. When the leaders roared toward the line at the end of the stage, the Colombian squirted ahead to take a six-second, second-place time bonus to trim his gap to 2:41 going into the Giro’s third rest day.

“Dumoulin is a big champion, and he didn’t want to take advantage of a situation like that,” Quintana said at the line. “In the sprint, I tried something a little ‘intelligent,’ looking to surprise, even though it was difficult to win against a rival like [Bob] Jungels.”

[pullquote align=“left” attrib=”Nairo Quintana”]”In the sprint, I tried something a little ‘intelligent,’ looking to surprise, even though it was difficult to win against a rival like [Bob] Jungels.”[/pullquote]

Quintana heads into Monday’s third and final rest day believing that everything is possible. So does Dumoulin, who might not be so charitable next time Quintana is caught up in a mishap.

“It was the right thing to do. We’re not going to take advantage of a mishap of a rival,” Dumoulin said of the Quintana crash. “We have to stay concentrated in the final week. The hardest part of the Giro is still ahead of us. Nothing is won until Milan.”