Nairo Quintana: “The objective is still to finish on the podium. It's a dream for me to achieve that.”
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Nairo Quintana: “The objective is still to finish on the podium. It's a dream for me to achieve that.”

by Ben Atkins at 1:33 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Colombian all but wraps up white jersey classification and closes in on polka-dots

Nairo QuintanaNairo Quintana (Movistar) was the general classification rider that came out of today’s 18th stage of the Tour de France on top. The 23-year-old Colombian finished the “Double Huez” stage, which saw the peloton climb the iconic mountain twice for the first time, in fourth place, just two minutes and 12 seconds behind stage winner Christophe Riblon (AG2R La Mondiale). More importantly, however, he finished a minute and six seconds clear of Maillot Jaune Chris Froome (Team Sky), and took even more time out of most of the rest of the general classification leaders.

The result of this is that Quintana moved up from sixth to third overall, and could be set to become the first Colombian to finish on the Paris podium since Fabio Parra in 1988.

“As I was already tired this morning it was good to have a fresh stage, without really hot conditions – this suits me better because I didn't think I would have the legs to attack Froome at the finish,” Quintana said after the stage.

With nearest rival in the young rider classification Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) suffering on the double climb of the Alpe, Quintana looks almost certain to finish the race in the white jersey. This could be one of three visits to the podium, however, if he can hold on to his third place overall, while he now sits jut seven points behind Froome in the mountains classification.

With Froome sure to focus wholly on holding on to his Maillot Jaune, there is a very real possibility that Quintana could finish in Paris on the overall podium, and also capture two of the four jersey classifications.

“The objective is still to finish on the podium,” he confirmed. “It's a dream for me to achieve that. As for getting both – the climbing classification and a place on the podium – it's not done yet but it would be unreal.”

Having been beaten by Froome on the final two kilometres of Mont Ventoux on stage 15, Quintana was able to leave the Kenyan-born Briton behind on the way to the Alpe d’Huez finish as he suffered from hunger-knock. Despite reducing his deficit by more than a minute, however, Quintana still recognises that it would be virtually impossible to overtake Froome before Paris.

“I've never been as happy as I am today,” he said. “I've gone from sixth to third overall, I've taken one minute out of Froome's lead... I didn't realise that he had some problems but my timing was ideal. I had a bit of luck.

“Tomorrow and the next day are very hard stages so have to recover quickly and get ready for the challenges that lie ahead…” he added. “But I accept that winning this Tour is no longer an obtainable objective – the gap to Froome is too big.”

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