Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) scored his first win of the season in the Tour de San Luis today and positioned himself to take the overall win. The five-foot-six climber repeated what he did to move into second overall behind Chris Froome (Sky) at the Tour de France: he attacked.
On the isolated El Amago climb north of San Luis, he took control. He attacked early into the 10.5-kilometre undulating and rough cement climb. He went again, leaving everyone behind, with four kilometres remaining. The win, 50 seconds ahead of Sergio Godoy (San Luis), moved him with four seconds of the overall lead, currently held by Phillip Gaimon (Garmin-Sharp).
Gaimon climbed with the best US amateurs in the last few years before signing with Garmin. He could not match Quintana, however. His overall lead dropped from 1-47 minutes.
"Nairo Quintana is small," Gaimon said. "So the steeper, the better for him."
"He's one of the best climbers in the world at this time," said Colombian Darwin Atapuma (BMC Racing), third on the stage. "I only hope to stay in his wheel."
"I don't know who to compare myself to from the past," says the soft-speaking winner. "I'm Nairo Quintana."
'I'm going crazy'
The climb today brought back memories of the Tour de France for many followers. Quintana won the final mountain stage above Annecy, secured the mountains jersey, the young riders jersey and moved into second overall.
Quintana, however, has been unable to clarify his 2014 plans. It appears he will race the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España but Quintana said that even he does not know.
"No one has said I won't be going to the Tour or to the Giro," Quintana said.
"I don't know why it's taking so long to decide. I think the team is planning, it's the sponsor's decision, some want to go to one place and some want to go to another one. I'm in between and I'm going crazy."
Atapuma said that he should race the Tour to help BMC team-mate Tejay van Garderen and that Quintana should race as well.
"It's a disappointment if he doesn't go," Atapuma added. "The fans and the Tour are missing out on a great show."
Nairo Quintana wins Tour de San Luis stage four