Nairo Quintana of Movistar Team laid his claim to the overall title of the 2014 Giro d’Italia yesterday with a massive attacking display in the Alps to move into the race lead on the Ultimate CF SLX.
How it happened
Stage 16 was always going to be explosive. Just 139 km long and with three huge ascents, including the legendary Gavia and Stelvio passes. Add to that the adverse weather conditions with the peloton riding through heavy snow at higher ground, yesterday had all the makings of a classic Giro stage.
The Columbian slipped away before the final climb of the day and pressed home his advantage on the steep ramps to the summit finish at Val Martello, distancing Ryder Hesjedal of Garmin-Sharp on the final hairpins to the line. Further down the mountain, the main contenders were still toiling away, with pink jersey wearer, Rigoberto Uran, coming to the finish over four minutes down and losing his lead in the overall classification. Quintana now has a minute and 41 second advantage over his compatriot Uran.
Following the stage, a delighted Quintana was buoyed by the commitment of his teammates and by his own performance: “This gives me confidence and confirms I can do great things in the present and future. I dedicate this to my team. I owe them everything.”
The challenges to come…
Quintana has had to fight hard to even make it this far in the race, having ridden with a chest infection for the first two weeks and undergoing a course of antibiotics. Nevertheless, the final week of the Giro is made for the pure climbers.
After yet another category one summit finish on Thursday comes the second Individual Time Trial of this year’s Giro on Friday. The twist? It’s 26 km straight up the side of a mountain.
As if that wasn’t enough to separate the overall contenders, the final showdown will take place on the feared slopes of Monte Zoncolon. A Giro highlight, expect to see massive crowds with the tifosi going wild and riders struggling with fierce 20% gradients.
Following this test we will know who will be crowned 2014 Giro d’Italia champion.