PIANCAVALLO, Italy (VN) — Nairo Quintana rolled into Friday’s post-stage press conference dressed in his Movistar team jersey, perhaps in an unconscious admission that the pink jersey is not quite his yet.
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The Colombian was back in pink Friday. Perhaps it took longer and cost more than anyone could have expected against Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb). Now with a lead of 38 seconds, Quintana was quick to admit he needs more time going into Sunday’s final-day time trial.
“It will be difficult,” he said. “We have tomorrow’s stage, and we want to take more time against Dumoulin, who is the best in the time trial.”
On Friday’s explosive stage, Dumoulin finally cracked under the collective pressure of the climbers, and Quintana was first in line to profit. The Colombian hasn’t been his sharpest during this Giro, but he’s been good enough to win a stage, including an early stint in pink.
Quintana is hoping to win the Giro in the first leg of his Giro-Tour double attempt. He admitted that the race has been harder than expected.
“The level is very high in this Giro, and the time differences have not been so exaggerated,” he said. “The stages have been very demanding that we’ve gone through, especially since the Stelvio. My plan was to stay with the GC favorites in all the key stages, and try to differences when I could. We hope to maintain the jersey. Tomorrow will be a very decisive stage.”
So far through this Giro, Movistar has been playing the right tactical moves to set up Quintana, slotting riders such as Andrey Amador, Winner Anacona, and Gorka Izagirre into early breaks. Quintana has been unable to follow through with the knockout punch. And Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Dumoulin, and Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) have made it hard on everyone in this Giro.
Quintana didn’t put a number on it, but everyone knows he will need at least one additional minute on Dumoulin, and an extra margin against Pinot and Nibali, who can also time trial well.
“It’s not just [Dumoulin] I am worried about,” he said. “All the top riders are a danger.”
Quintana made it clear that Movistar did not attack Dumoulin during a pee break early in Friday’s stage when the main pack split. Dumoulin also confirmed that he was simply riding too far back when accelerations came after the pack rolled over an unrated climb.
“The intention was to go downhill very fast, and make the race very hard,” Quintana said. “We heard that there were riders behind, and the collective interests came together and we could drive forward.”
Even if Quintana has been at his absolute best during this Giro, he’s been consistently with the favorites. He’s back in pink. He knows he will need one more great day to have hopes of winning in Milan.
“It’s the last climb of the Giro,” Quintana said. “Everyone will play their cards. The attacks will come, and I know I need to take more time against my rivals.”
So what’s that mean? Quintana must attack on his own.