He stormed away solo with two kilometres remaining on the 16.1km climb north of Rome. He left behind Team Sky's Geraint Thomas, Adam Yates (Orica-Scott) and other rivals he will face in two months in the Giro d'Italia.
"There's little meaning, the Giro d'Italia will be different," Quintana said bundled in blue and green team kit.
"I think my rivals are going well and arriving on time too. I have to prepare for them, they are hard rivals. I'm not going to under-evaluate them."
His rivals in Tirreno-Adriatico are mostly the same that he will face May 5 to 28 when he tries to win his second Giro d'Italia title.
Thomas placed second at 18 seconds, Yates third at 24 seconds, and others – Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) – were scattered down the road in central Italy.
The "Quintana Show" - as Italy's sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport headlined its article on Sunday morning – saw the most talented Grand Tour cyclists behind Sky's Chris Froome do his thing.
He surged two or three times, the third finally broke Thomas, who said, “Quintana’s acceleration is phenomenal.”
With the win, Quintana took the overall lead by 33 seconds with three days to race. He must survive Sunday's undulating stage through Le Marche to Fermo and the final time trial stage on Tuesday along Italy’s east coast.
Quintana, however, explained that it "means little" with the deck of cards to be slightly reshuffled before the Giro begins in Sardinia on May 5.
"My team-mates did well and brought me to the climb all together. Castroviejo was ahead and Amador and Moreno closed all the gaps. It helped me save my energy for the final attack," Quintana said.
He added ominously that his “condition was not at its best” because he has been suffering from a cold.
Thomas and Yates will continue to race the Vuelta a Catalunya. Quintana will unplug back home in Colombia.
After the Vuelta a Valenciana win and the Tirreno-Adriatico's Terminillo show, he will rest and train at altitude before returning to Europe just ahead of Giro.
He reflected over the last two years since he stormed away on the Terminillo and won the eventual Tirreno-Adriatico title. He said, "I have more experience now.”
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