Dayer Quintana won overall, Fernando Gaviria romped to a sprint stage and Peter Sagan went back to not winning - just a few of the talking points from San Luis
Dayer Quintana is not just at Movistar to support his brother
Peter Sagan‘s brother Juraj sometimes takes a bit of stick in the world of cycling for his ability to win a ride with whatever team Peter is riding for, and without looking at any stats, it’s easy to jump to the same conclusions of nepotism about Dayer and Nairo Quintana riding together at Movistar.
But Dayer, two years younger than his Grand Tour-winning brother, showed how strong a rider he is in his own right in San Luis, picking up his first stage race victory in the process.
He wasn’t mentioned much in the build up to the race and he wasn’t even the most likely rider in his own family to win over the seven stages, but Nairo turned from leader to domestique to help his brother to the victory.
Movistar’s strength in depth could be one reason as to why his previous best general classification result was ninth in the 2014 Tour of Austria, where he finished 4-14 behind winner Peter Kennaugh.
He’s scheduled to ride the Giro d’Italia in 2016, where he made his Grand Tour debut last year, where he will likely ride in support of Alejandro Valverde.
Nairo debuted at the Vuelta a España in 2012, finishing 36th, before ‘supporting’ Valverde at the Tour and actually outshining the Spaniard by finishing second. It’s unlikely Dayer will threaten to win the Giro this year, but should his rise be as fast as his brother’s, we could see a special double-act forming at Movistar.
Peter Sagan starts in a similar vein to 2015
The best thing about Sagan not winning races is that at least the rider himself is able to joke about it.
Sagan finished second more times last season than many accomplished riders do in their entire careers, but he saw the funny side of always missing out on the line.
So come the first sprint stage in San Luis, where did the world champion finish? That’s right, second. Then he came fourth on stage three and again on stage seven.
Regularly the bridesmaid and only sometimes the bride. But he was the bride at the World Championships, and the rainbow jersey is one hell of a wedding gift.
Viviani and Mareczko won’t be speaking for a while
If, like me, you were watching the dodgy YouTube feed of the final stage on Sunday evening you’ll likely have had as little idea what was going on as me.
The quality of the picture and the location of the camera was so poor that it was tough to distinguish between the leading riders in the bunch sprint.
It turned out that it was so hard to tell the two frontrunners apart because they were riding for the same team, and Elia Viviani probably has the right to feel a little aggrieved that his leadout man Jakub Mareczko trumped him to the win.
Both were riding for the Italian national team, so had little to lose in terms of team spirit from contesting the sprint, but when Mareczko admitted that he was working for Viviani it makes little sense that he sprinted for the line.
For a yet unexplained reason, Viviani didn’t make it to the podium after the race. Perhaps seething that his rival but temporary teammate denied him his first win of the year, perhaps he had a plane to catch…who knows?
Fernando Gaviria showed why he will win a lot of races
Etixx-Quick Step sports director Brian Holm says that Fernando Gaviria doesn’t need a dedicated leadout team like Marcel Kittel because he will win races anyway, and he showed that winning spirit on stage two.
He did have a decent leadout, with Maximiliano Richeze – who will work with Kittel this year – his last man in the sprint train and won his stage pretty easily.
Unfortunately the Colombian sprinter broke his arm in the huge crash on stage five, which will keep him out of action for several weeks, but on his return he will win a lot.
Marquee riders start their seasons quietly
The focus before the race was on the fact that Vincenzo Nibali, Nairo Quintana and Rafal Majka were starting their seasons in San Luis. But like in recent years, Nibali was never really in the hunt for wins in his first race, while Majka snuck his way into seventh place, but lost over two minutes over the seven stages.
Quintana is the odd one out in that trio, with the Colombian always seeming to come into the season strong, probably thanks to the offseason training he gets in his home country, and the fact he is expected to perform well on his own continent.
Their low key starts allowed some lesser talked-about riders to step into the spotlight, with Dayer Quintana winning ahead of Eduardo Sepulveda – previously better known for being kicked off the 2015 Tour de France for hitching a lift up a hill.
Roman Villalobos, from the Costa Rica team, will be able to go back Canels-Specialized teammates and tell them he finished higher than Nibali in the general classification, as can Steven Calderon, of the excellently named Strongman-Campagnolo Wilier team.