Quintana Climbs to Victory in Stage 20 of Tour de France
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) has won Stage 20 in the Tour de France and obtained second place on the podium in Paris. The Colombian surged away from Chris Froome (Sky) in the last km to win the mountainous, 125-km ride from from Annecy to Annecy/Semnoz in 3:39:04. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) finished second at 0:18, and Froome took third at 0:29. Froome is the maillot jaune and is poised to win the race when it ends in Paris tomorrow.
Pierre Rolland (Europcar) attacked in the first km, and Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Leopard), Marcus Burghardt (BMC), and Juan Antonio Flecha (Vacansoleil-DCM) joined him. Behind, a chase group formed. It consisted of Igor Anton and Mikel Astarloza (both from Euskaltel-Euskadi), Cyril Gautier (Europcar), Christophe Riblon (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Pavel Brutt (Katusha), and Simon Clarke (Orica-GreenEdge). At 14 km, with the Movistar-led peloton at 1:30, the two groups merged.
On the Category 3 Col des Pres, Rolland nearly rode Anton off of the road when the two were racing for King of the Mountains points. At this point (51 km), the escapees were 1:21 ahead of the peloton. On the descent, the gap narrowed to 0:45, but at the base of the Category 1 Mont Revard, the fugitives led the bunch by 1:55.
At the base of Mont Revard, Voigt, who might be riding his last Tour de France, attacked. When the peloton reached the base, BMC men Philippe Gilbert and Tejay van Garderen jumped from the peloton and bridged up to the chase group. Brutt and Anton set out after Voigt, while Astarloza and Flecha were dropped. Gilbert and van Garderen caught Burghardt, and Alexis Vuillermoz (Sojasun) joined the trio. At the summit, Voigt led Anton by 0:38, with Rolland, Riblon, van Garderen, Gilbert, and the remains of the break at 2:10. The chasers caught Anton on the descent, but Voigt led them by 1:40 with 25 km left.
Movistar picked up the pace with 25 km remaining and the peloton at 3:12. Twelve km later, Sky took over at the front. At the base of the climb to the finish, Voigt was 1:08 ahead of the peloton, which was 0:20 behind van Garderen, Rolland, and Vuillermoz.
Stage 19 winner Rui Costa (Movistar) joined Sky in the pacemaking. The maillot jaune group shelled riders and reeled in the van Garderen group. With nine km to go, Costa’s teammate Alejandro Valverde took over from Costa. At this point, the maillot jaune group consisted of Valverde and Quintana, Froome and Richie Porte (both from Sky), Alberto Contador and Roman Kreuziger (both from Saxo Bank-Tinkoff), and Rodriguez. Voigt led the group by 0:15, but less than a km later, the heads of state passed him.
Rodriguez attacked, and initially, only Quintana joined him. Eventually, Froome joined the pair and mounted an attack of his own. The two clawed their ways to his wheel. With seven km left, Contador was at 0:22, with Kreuziger at 0:33. A group containing the other GC contenders was more than a minute behind the maillot jaune group.
With five km left, Contador was more than a minute behind the maillot jaune group, and his place on the Tour podium was slipping away. Kreuziger paced his captain, while Porte rode in their wake. Ahead, Rodriguez and Quintana drove the maillot jaune group to distance themselves from Contador. With three km left, Andrew Talansky (Garmin-Sharp) joined the Contador group and Kreuziger dropped out of it.
Just before the one-km banner, Froome attacked. Quintana responded quickly, but Rodriguez did not. As the Spaniard reached the Briton and the Colombian, Quintana attacked and powered home for the win. Rodriguez jumped Froome to take second.
Quintana’s win and Rodriguez’s second place reshaped the podium. Contador dropped from second to fourth overall, while Rodriguez moved from fourth to third and Quintana from third to second. In addition to taking the stage win, the Colombian has taken the young rider and King of the Mountains competitions.
Quintana’s success overwhelmed him, and he gave thanks to his team and to his compatriots. "I can't believe what has happened, I have no words," the Movistar man said. “I had dreamt of this for a very long time, but didn't believe it could come so early. I'm just a 23-year-old boy, but time goes fast, and today is a day to cry out of pure happiness. We thought winning the stage was feasible, but I wasn't as convinced as my DS nor all the team. They're impressive: they help me so much, especially on the psychological side, to cope with such big challenges. Just all of them: the carers, the technical side, all the riders...they all took me here and I wouldn't have achieved anything without them. They're a spectacular group, the strongest of all in the Tour. When [Movistar directeur sportif Jose Luis] Arrieta told me 'you have to take leadership roles in the team,' I stood up and said 'of course.' I was ready, there was no problem, but I told them they would have to forgive me should my legs fail, because the Tour is so fast and the stages, so long. They said I just had to do as much as I could - I should be calm and go as far as the legs would let me to. But today, we saw I recovered really well from the efforts, and I could pay back the confidence as team leader. This victory goes to Arrieta, the best DS I ever had, and every single member of the team.
"What I achieved today is the result of lots of work and the class God and my parents gave me. What I achieved is also a result of my team's work: only since a year ago, I thought about contesting the Tour overall--I had just turned pro and was contesting my first big races, showing myself to the world. I never thought so big when I was a child--I was just going day by day, and only last year I started thinking about that. People asked me and will surely ask me to win the Tour de France in the future, and also in Colombia they wanted me to conquer the KOM jersey, which was always essential to us Colombian riders. What happened today makes me really confident and willing to work and give it a try. I want to take advantage from this moment to salute another Colombian who won this jersey in the Tour and is now at home, recovering after his accident in the 2011 Tour de Suisse: Mauricio Soler. He told me he would take care of me from there, and this victory is dedicated to him; best wishes of full recovery, my friend, you're an inspiration for me to keep going." ibi
In the overall, Froome leads Quintana by 5:03 and Rodriguez by 5:47. There is one last thing to fight for--victory on the Champs Elysees. Stage 21, a 133.5-km run from Versailles to Paris, will end with the traditional sprint. Who will take it? Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step)? Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano)? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
Follow Roadcycling.com on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to stay up to date with our full Tour de France coverage and gear up for your next ride in our RoadCycling.com road bike shop . Help us spread the word about RoadCycling.com by linking to us from your Web site or blog.