Quintana won stage 10 of the race to take the coveted red jersey of general classification leader, and never relinquished his lead despite a spirited challenge from Froome, Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff).
The biggest breakthrough in the race for Quintana came on stage 15, when he put himself into an escape group with Contador and team-mates to gain over two and a half minutes on Froome, who found himself without team support.
Froome clawed back over two minutes as he convincingly won the key time trial stage to set up a thrilling final day in the mountains on stage 20. Froome repeatedly attacked Quintana on the final climb, but Quintana held firm – actually gaining a couple of second on Froome on the line.
Froome clapped his hands as he crossed the finish in recognition of Quintana’s effort, and that the Movistar leader had effectively sealed overall victory.
Quintana adds the 2016 Vuelta victory to his 2014 Giro d’Italia overall win, establishing himself as one of the world’s leading three-week race contenders at the age of 26.
The Colombian finished the race 1-23 ahead of second-placed Froome, with Chaves in third at 4-08. Contador finished fourth, with British rider Simon Yates (Orica-BikeExchange) in sixth, establishing himself as a future Grand Tour contender despite spending some of the race supporting Chaves.
Orica-BikeExchange’s successful Vuelta continued in the finale in Madrid with a second sprint stage win for Magnus Cort Nielsen. Coupled with Chaves and Yates top 10 GC positions, and stage wins for Yates and Jens Keukeleire, the Australian squad showed off its exciting young talent.
Italian Fabio Feline (Trek-Segafredo) took the points classification jersey, with Spaniard Omar Fraile (Dimension Data) ending a ding-dong climbing battle with Frenchman Kenny Elissonde (FDJ) with the mountains classification win.
2016 Final general classification
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar in 83-31-28
2. Chris Froome (GBr) Team Sky at 1-23
3. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-BikeExchange at 4-08
4. Alberto Contador (Esp) Tinkoff at 4-21
5. Andrew Talansky (USA) Cannondale-Drapac at 7-43
6. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-BikeExchange at 8-33
7. David de la Cruz (Esp) Etixx-QuickStep at 11-18
8. Daniel Moreno (Esp) Movistar at 13-04
9. Davide Formolo (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac at 13-17
10. George Bennett (NZl) LottoNL-Jumbo, at 14-07