Nairo Quintana’s first win for his new Arkéa-Samsic team will be a memorable one as he took victory on Mont Ventoux on stage three of the Tour de La Provence 2020.
The Colombian attacked with just over 7km to go, towards the finish at Chalet Reynard, which sits at 1,429m above sea level, 500m below the mountain’s summit.
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Hugh Carthy (EF Pro Cycling), Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) and race leader Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana) soon formed a three-man chase group, but were unable to close the gap as Quintana eventually finished nearly a minute and a half ahead.
Lutsenko eventually took second while Carthy rounded out the podium. Quintana’s gap means he takes the race lead off Vlasov, who now sits more than a minute behind the Colombian on GC.
Ineos’ Eddie Dunbar led home the chase group of GC favourites with a late sprint for the line two minutes down, with Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma), Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb), Jésus Herrada (Cofidis), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) filling the top 10.
One stage remains in the 2020 Tour de La Provence, with stage four from Avignon to Aix-en-Provence taking in the category two Col de 3 Termes and the category one Col de l’Aire dei Masco.
How it unfolded up Ventoux
Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Rémi Cavagna was the first on the climb, taking nearly a five-minute lead onto the lower slopes. A chase group containing Timothy Dupont (Circus-Wanty Gobert) found themselves in between the Frenchman ahead and the GC group behind.
Arkéa-Samsic and Cofidis led the peloton with 8.5km remaining, with Cavagna’s lead cut to a minute and a half before he was swept up a kilometre later.
The race then started to splinter as Arkéa upped the pace, with Thibaut Pinot fighting to stay in contention, this race being his first back since his abandonment of the Tour de France last year.
The French team’s presence at the front of the race had been to set things up for their new rider Nairo Quintana, who attacked with just over 7km to go.
American Sepp Kuss tried to jump across to his wheel but struggled to keep up with the Colombian’s pace.
Quintana had soon opened up an advantage of 12 seconds over Alexey Lutsenko, Hugh Carthy and Kuss, who had picked up the chase out of the remnants of the GC group.
With 6km to go the gap had doubled as Quintana powered up the climb with a high cadence and Pinot and Romain Bardet fought to stay in contact with their group behind.
Kuss was then dropped by Carthy and Lutsenko, while race leader Aleksandr Vlasov countered the group behind to bridge up to the two remaining poursuivants.
With 3.5km to go, Quintana was sailing towards victory with a gap of a minute and a half. Kuss re-found some form as he drove the pace of the large chase group in third place on the road, 20 seconds behind Carthy, Lutsenko and Vlasov.
Quintana eased himself over the line to take an impressive first victory for his new employers, while Lutsenko attacked Carthy in the run-in to finish second, the Brit having to settle for third.
Eddie Dunbar had something left in the tank as he sprinted for the line and led the larger GC group home, more than two minutes down on Quintana.
Tour de La Provence 2020, stage three: Istres to Mont Ventoux/Chalet Reynard (140.2km)
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkéa-Samsic, in 3-36-26
2. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana, at 1-28
3. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling
4. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana, both at same time
5. Eddie Dunbar (Irl) Ineos, at 2-11
6. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma, at 2-12
7. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb
8. Jesús Herrada (Esp) Cofidis
9. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, all at same time
10. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 2-25
General classification after stage three
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Arkéa-Samsic, in 11-24-12
2. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana, at 1-04
3. Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana, at 1-28
4. Hugh Carthy (GBr) EF Pro Cycling, at 1-38
5. Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Sunweb, at 2-16
6. Eddie Dunbar (Irl) Ineos, at 2-21
7. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 2-22
8. Sepp Kuss (USA) Jumbo-Visma, at 2-26
9. Jesús Herrada (Esp) Cofidis, at same time
10. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, at 2-35