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His personal exploits might have been overshadowed by the spectacular changes in the yellow jersey, but the veteran Colombian rode to second and punched into the top 5 overall.
“I’m happy, I don’t have better words tonight,” Quintana said. “We have repeated in recent days that we must take the stages one after the other and remain cautious while taking advantage of each opportunity that presents itself. I thought I had to give it a try.”
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Try he did. Quintana revealed glimpses of his former best when he peeled off the front of the top GC group at the base of the Col du Granon to slowly open up a gap.
With Arkéa-Samsic teammate Warren Barguil up the road chasing the stage win, Quintana rode his steady tempo all the way to the top.
Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) came rumbling past to win in stunning fashion to take yellow, and Quintana continued his steady clip to the top.
Quintana crossed the line second at 59 seconds back and climbed seven spots into fifth overall at 2:37 back.
The performance evoked memories of a younger Quintana when he rode to the heights of Tour success nearly a decade ago.
Second is his best stage result since winning over the Col du Galibier into Valloire in 2019.
After being hampered by injuries the past few seasons, the three-time Tour podium finisher is cautiously optimistic going into the hardest part of the Tour.
“I climbed at my own pace and we won a few seconds over our opponents in the general classification,” he said. “Yes, there is this podium in sight, we will continue to work and be patient. [Thursday] we still have a big moment in the high mountains waiting for us.”