VN news ticker: Nairo Quintana, Emma Norsgaard, Tom Pidcock come out on top

From the mud of the Swiss MTB Cup to the hills of the Asturias, here's what happened in this weekend's races.

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Nairo Quintana nets overall at Vuelta Asturias

Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic) landed his first victories since knee problems and subsequent surgeries torpedoed his 2020 season over the weekend.

The 31-year-old was able to fend off pressure from Movistar duo Antonio Pedrero and Einer Augusto Rubio on the mountaintop finish on the Alto del Naranco to secure the overall at Vuelta Asturias on Sunday. French hotshot Pierre Latour (Groupama-FDJ) took victory on the five-kilometer finishing climb in the hills of the Asturias.

After storming into the leader’s jersey with a stage win Friday, Quintana was able to finish the job Sunday in a key result as he builds toward the Tour de France.

“It’s always a joy to win,” he said. “I knew that little by little it would get better after my knee operations, and the rehabilitation time that it was going to require of me. I am happy to bring these two successes – the stage on day one and the general classification of Asturias – to the Arkéa-Samsic team. It’s very important to all of us.

“I will now recover a little, in view, in particular, of the Tour de France. I feel better and better race after race, better, and these successes are proof of that.”

Emma Norsgaard dominates Festival Elsy Jacobs with two stage wins and the overall

After a season of standing on the podium but never making the top step, Danish champion Emma Norsgaard (Movistar) scored twice in two days at the Festival Elsy Jacobs this weekend, clinching the GC in the process.

The 21-year-old outsprinted Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Caratizit-WNT) and Sofia Bertizzolo (Liv) in the final stage of the Luxembourg race Sunday, delivering after a day of dominance from her Movistar team. Norsgaard’s success this weekend sees her finally punching her ticket for the Spanish squad after it scooped her from the ashes of the shuttered Bigla-Katusha team this winter.

“I’m so happy for this overall victory! I’m so happy to have chosen to join this team last year, and they are working so good for me since the very start of the season, it’s so impressive,” she said. “I’m so, so proud, both of myself and the whole team.”

Norsgaard was guided through the scrappy final kilometers by the American Leah Thomas, who also rode with Bigla in 2020.

“I was together with Leah the whole day, and when we went in the break together, she really supported me the whole way, especially in the climbs – wherever was a gap, she closed it down and made things easier for me,” Norsgaard said. “Leah is a big part of today’s victory.”

Tom Pidcock powers to Ineos Grenadiers’ first MTB win

Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) wasted no time clicking into MTB mode this weekend, winning the Swiss Bike Cup in Leukerbad on Sunday. The 21-year-old dominated the race and came to the line some three minutes ahead of second-place finisher Titouan Carod.

It was the 21-year-old’s first elite mountain bike victory, and the first since he hung up his road wheels after impressing through the spring classics. The result was also the first-ever off-road win for Ineos Grenadiers.

“It was a good race and I felt really good. I had good fun. The first mountain bike this year so I can’t complain,” Pidcock said.

“It’s a good course. It suited me very well with the climb and I came here in preparation for the World Cups, to dial in different points across the team.”

Pidcock was using the Swiss race as a warm-up for the bigger challenge of the opening rounds of the UCI World Cup in the next two weekends. The races in Albstadt and Nove Mesto on May 9 and 16 will offer Pidcock the opportunity to race for qualification points for the Olympic MTB race, where he will be hoping to face-off against classics and cyclocross rival Mathieu van der Poel.