MONTE TERMINILLO, Italy (VN) — Nairo Quintana blasted free in a snowstorm with 4.8 remaining in 2015. Today, two years later with sun warming the Roman ski resort Monte Terminillo, he did so at two kilometers and soloed to a stage 4 win and overall race lead. His rivals, rolling in seconds and minutes later, say that they are impressed.
Quintana’s Movistar team took control on the 16.1-kilometer summit finish. It sent Jonathan Castroviejo away early and protected its small Colombian with Daniel Moreno and Andrey Amador. Quintana handled the rest on his own.
“It’s difficult to win Tirreno-Adriatico with Nairo Quintana,” Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) said alongside Terminillo’s snow banks. “In comparison, I felt only human today.”
The pace scattered cycling’s grand tour stars. 2015 Vuelta a España victor Fabio Aru (Astana) rolled over the line 4:06 minutes behind Quintana.
American Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) lost 2:19. Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, and Vuelta a España champion Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) lost 1:43.
“I lack a big piece of the puzzle,” Nibali said while reaching for a warm jersey.
“Those attacks, I had no answer to.”
Those attacks also left behind overnight race leader Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), Pinot, Mikel Landa (Sky), Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Adam Yates (Orica-Scott), and Geraint Thomas (Sky).
Thomas, Yates and Rigoberto Urán (Cannondale-Drapac) remained with Quintana the longest. Quintana, who overthrew Chris Froome in the Vuelta a España last year, dislodged them too at two kilometers from the line.
“No,” Welshman Thomas said with a laugh if there was anything to do to match Quintana. He finished second at 18 seconds behind.
“That kick he had, the acceleration is phenomenal and I knew I couldn’t match that. I had to kick myself, but just not go well into the red and try to pace it.”
Yates placed third at 24 seconds. The Brit explained, “You just have to try to hold on when he goes. I felt OK and when he attacks, you’ve got to get on a wheel and try to limit your losses.”
Quintana last won the Terminillo stage in 2015 and took the eventual Tirreno-Adriatico overall too. In the recent years – from winning the Giro d’Italia, placing second to Froome twice in the Tour, to his Vuelta Victory – he has fully matured.
“I have more experience now with respect to two years ago,” Quintana said. “I have maturity, which I took advantage of today.”
The win, and overall lead with 33 seconds on Yates, will have many worried. These same riders will face Quintana in the Giro d’Italia this May 5 to 28. This 2017 season, Quintana will try to win both the Giro and the Tour.
“There’s little meaning to this performance, the Giro will be different,” Quintana said.
“I think my rivals are going well and arriving on time too for their Giro appointment. I have to prepare for them, they are hard rivals. I’m not going to under-evaluate them.”