Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) has taken over the lead at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana after winning today’s queen stage of the race which finished on the 4-kilometre climb to Llucena.
The fourth stage of the race included 4,000 metres of climbing on the route from Segorbe to Llucena and a six-man breakaway which went clear was never given much leeway with Team Sky and Movistar controlling the peloton. This lead group were brought back as they neared the final climb, by which the time the peloton had been reduced to just fifty riders.
Quintana attacked right from the bottom of the final ascent which averaged 12% with some sections of 20%, and was initially followed by Amaro Antunes (W52-FC Porto Porto-Canal) and Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data for Qhubeka). The Portuguese rider soon dropped back, with the Eritrean still hanging onto Quintana’s wheel for just over one kilometre before losing sight of the Colombian’s wheel.
Quintana soloed to the finish to take the 32nd victory of his career, 40″ ahead of Kudus and 45″ ahead of Antunes. The Colombian had gone into the stage with a 54” deficit on GC but now leads Ben Hermans (BMC Racing) by 13″ with Hermans’ team mate Manuel Senni a further 19 seconds behind. Tomorrow’s last stage is 130 kilometres from Paterna to Valencia with just one categorised climb along the way.
Nairo Quintana: “Today’s plan went nearly perfect. We’re still watching how my body reacts to these early-season efforts and today, happily, it responded well.
“As in every stage of this race, the team covered me perfectly and I could save all of my energy before the climb. I jumped from the very foot, saw myself doing well, and carried on. I really found great legs over the steepest parts of the climb, so today’s effort seems like a good sign. We will keep on refining our training plan to keep this form growing up.
“It’s a very special victory in my birthday. A success that makes me calm and confident, as it proves we did some good work over the winter. We have very clear goals in mind and we’re approaching them correctly. I don’t feel like this is a warning for my rivals, though. We’re still so early in this season, and things just went well into one race. We took advantage from the moment, but it doesn’t mean anything regarding the big goals. Even so, this victory makes us tremendously happy – it’s quite an important success for our team, the first one – and a good one.
“I want to dedicate this win to my family, my wife, my little daughter, my dad and my brothers, always helping me out wherever I needed to; and especially to my friend Adriano Malori. We think about him a lot and we’re raring to have him with us into races. Also, to all the team, staff and sports directors included, as they make our work go so smoothly.”