San Juan stage 5: Winner Anacona seizes lead on key summit finish

Atop the fearsome Alto Colorado, Movistar's Colombian climber Winner Anacona wins the day and assumes the overall race lead.

Out-sprinting two companions on the high-altitude summit finish of stage 5, Winner Anacona moved into the overall lead at Vuelta a San Juan Friday in Argentina. He got the better of two riders from the Medellin team, Cesar Paredes and Cristhian Montoya, who finished second and third, respectively.

“I feel so happy about this victory. It’s been four years since the last time I won, and this is a big moment for me,” said Anacona.

Movistar’s Anacona moved ahead of Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) in the overall by 41 seconds. Defending champion Oscar Sevilla was fifth on the stage, slotting into third overall at 57 seconds.

Anacona made his move with around 14 kilometers to go on the massive 19-kilometer ascent of Alto Colorado.

“My attack was our plan to test the waters, to see how our rivals were doing, and I didn’t think I could reach too far,” he said. “However, and once I built a decent gap, everything just went like we wanted to. Nairo [Quintana] was telling me through the earpiece, ‘Go on, everything’s alright here, everything’s under control, no one is really chasing behind.’”

He managed to fend off the two fellow Colombians, Paredes and Montoya, to win the sprint, although he admitted to some doubts.

“I was thinking one of the two Medellín riders would beat me into the sprint, but I had good legs in the end and took what’s also a surprise victory for me,” Anacona said. “I’m so happy to have claimed both the stage and the lead.”

The seven-day race concludes Sunday with a rolling circuit race around San Juan.

Before that, Anacona must defend his lead in stage 6, a 153.5km race that starts and finishes at the Autódromo El Villicúm. There will be a 4.4km hill to the line, but it is a moderate climb at just 2.3 percent gradient.

“There’s nothing sealed before we cross the last finish line, though the stages remaining are not too complicated, rather than sprinter-suited ones,” he added. “I think we’ve got a strong team to defend ourselves.”