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Well, that didn’t take long. Movistar’s Nairo Quintana hit out with a bang Saturday, pulling off the double in his stage race debut of 2017. He couldn’t have given himself a better 27th birthday present.
Quintana attacked at the base of the steep but short Mas de la Costa summit finale in Saturday’s “queen stage” to win the day. His pace was so explosive he could erase a 54-second deficit in just 4km of uphill pavement to grab the overall lead.
“I attacked at the base, and saw myself going well, so I carried on,” Quintana said. “I really found great legs over the steepest parts of the climb, so today’s effort seems like a good sign. We will keep on refining our training plan to keep this form growing up.”
The impressive display will put Quintana’s rivals on notice as he takes on the double of the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France. Like other big-name riders notching early season wins, such as Richie Porte (BMC Racing) at Santos Tour Down Under or Bauke Mollema (Trek—Segafredo) at the Tour de San Juan, Quintana isn’t wasting any time.
Quintana, however, downplayed the significance of the confidence-boosting win.
“I don’t feel like this is a warning for my rivals, though,” he said. “We’re still so early in this season, and things just went well during one race. We took advantage of the moment, but it doesn’t mean anything looking ahead to the bigger goals. Having said that, this victory makes us tremendously happy. This is an important victory, the first one – and a good one.”
Saturday’s ride sets up Quintana for overall victory, which ends Sunday with a likely sprinter’s stage into Valencia. BMC Racing had taken control of the race with a dominant team time trial victory to open the five-day race Wednesday, slotting Manuel Senni and then Olympic gold medalist Greg Van Avermaet into the leader’s jersey. Movistar was fourth in the TTT, at 1:02 back, so that explains why Quintana attacked so early in Saturday’s finale.
Quintana dedicated the win to his injured Movistar teammate Adriano Malori. Up next for Quintana are the Abu Dhabi Tour, Tirreno-Adriatico and the Vuelta a Asturias ahead of the Giro.
Stage 4 results, top 10
- 1. Nairo QUINTANA, MOVISTAR, in 5:02:19
- 2. Merhawi KUDUS GHEBREMEDHIN, DIMENSION DATA, at :40
- 3. Manuel Antures AMARO, W52-FC PORTO-PORTO CANAL, at :45
- 4. Wout POELS, TEAM SKY, at :48
- 5. Primož ROGLIC, TEAM LOTTONL-JUMBO, at :57
- 6. Daniel MARTIN, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at 1:07
- 7. Ben HERMANS, BMC RACING, at 1:07
- 8. Steven KRUIJSWIJK, TEAM LOTTONL-JUMBO, at 1:10
- 9. Jakob FUGLSANG, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 1:13
- 10. Davide FORMOLO, CANNONDALE-DRAPAC, at 1:17
General classification, top 10
- 1. Nairo QUINTANA, MOVISTAR, in 14:20:16
- 2. Ben HERMANS, BMC RACING, at :23
- 3. Manuel SENNI, BMC RACIN, at :42
- 4. Wout POELS, TEAM SKY, at 1:02
- 5. Daniel MARTIN, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at 1:19
- 6. Jakob FUGLSANG, ASTANA PRO TEAM, at 1:52
- 7. David DE LA CRUZ MELGAREJO, QUICK-STEP FLOORS, at 2:03
- 8. Merhawi KUDUS GHEBREMEDHIN, DIMDENSION DATA, at 2:17
- 9. Steven KRUIJSWIJK, TEAM LOTTONL-JUMBO, at 2:22
- 10. Jonathan CASTROVIEJO, MOVISTAR, at 2:35