Quintana gunning for possible podium finish in first Tour de France
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Monday, July 15, 2013

Quintana gunning for possible podium finish in first Tour de France

by VeloNation Press at 7:36 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Colombian shows talent on Mont Ventoux, retakes white jersey

Nairo QuintanaHaving shown his power on yesterday’s climb of Mont Ventoux, where he was the only rider able to go close to the stage winner Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana is looking forward to the Alps and his opportunity to continue to move up the general classification.

He moved from eighth to sixth overall in the general classification yesterday and also took over the white jersey of best young rider, continuing a to-and-fro battle with Omega Pharma Quick Step’s Michał Kwiatkowski. He has now moved over two minutes clear of the Belgian as a result.

That competition is a focus for him and so too a possible top three overall in Paris.

“I hope to keep the white jersey and take some more time to be on the podium. There are some tough stages coming up, plus the TT, where I hope not to lose as much time with the other rivals as in the first one,” he said.

“It suits me better than the flat one - should it be flat, heavier riders would make things difficult, but I'm convinced I'll perform well.”

Indeed, Wednesday’s 32 kilometre individual race from Embrun to Chorges contains constantly undulating roads, and should be much better for him.

On yesterday’s stage Quintana made his move early on, surging long before Froome made his own move. He expended energy on the lower slopes while the Briton remained behind his Sky team-mates. They helped limit the gains of Quintana, then Froome surged and joined up to him.

He briefly dropped him, Quintana fought back, then Froome distanced him again close to the summit. The gap between the two at the line was just 29 seconds, while the next rider, Euskaltel’s Mikel Nieve, was a one minute 23 seconds back.

Simply put, Quintana was the only one in the same ballpark as Froome, and can take encouragement from that.

“The idea was to win some time and get close to the podium; I knew the white jersey would come with that attack and I dreamt of winning the stage, too,” he said.

While he’s just 23 years of age, he is coping well with the demands of his first Tour de France. He’s finding it tough, as are all the others, but is also recovering well thus far. “These days are taking their toll: the stages are longer, you've got to get up earlier, you don't rest as much as you would like... but this is for everyone,” he said. “I think next week's stages will play on our favour.”

Quintana now sits five minutes 47 seconds behind Froome. There’s no reason to believe he can close that gap, but he is just one minute 33 seconds off Bauke Mollema’s second place overall. If he keeps riding well, that looks like a possible target.

He’ll also have the full backing of the Movistar squad, which saw Alejandro Valverde lose his own chance when he had a mechanical issue on a Friday’s stage to Saint-Amand-Montrond.

"We have a strong team - dynamic, with good cooperation between all members,” said Quintana. “I thank my team-mates for all the efforts, and also to the team manager, who plays an important role in the races, playing his cards with intelligence.”

Racing will resume tomorrow on a lumpy 168 kilometre stage to Gap.

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