Saturday, 16 June 2012

Route du Sud: Quintana Prevails In The Pyrenees

I was keeping a close eye on today's Stage 3 of the Route du Sud as the race moved into the Pyrenees, tackling the infamous Col du Tourmalet before heading to an uphill climax which was sure to see the race decided ahead of tomorrows final stage...

As I predicted in my race preview earlier in the week it was the in-form Nairo Quintana (Movistar) that took victory in today's mountainous stage. The Col du Tourmalet did indeed split the peloton into several select groups, the front of which included the 22 year old Colombian talent. Having shown his form in the Alps during the Dauphine, the Pyrenees proved to be a doddle for Quintana as he went over the summit of the Tourmalet with a group of six riders including the likes of Tommy Voeckler and Anthony Charteau (Europcar) behind only lone rider Mathieu Perget (AG2R).

The young Colombian started to attack on the final categorised climb of the Spandelles but the race was won when he finally dropped his companions on a steep section, with only Hubert Dupont (AG2R) and Charteau making any sustained effort to try and close him down. It wasn't to be though as Quintana proved he wasn't just a one trick climbing pony and put in a stunning descent into the finish gaining an astonishing minute and eleven seconds on the next best placed rider Dupont. Anthony Charteau rolled in third, 3.49 minutes behind the stage winner and from there the gaps only grew with the tenth man across the line finishing a staggering 12 minutes back on Quintana.

English hopeful Jon Tiernan-Locke finished the stage 23rd, 20 minutes down, placing him 22nd in the General Classification, 20minutes and 17seconds behind Nairo Quintana who goes into the final stage 53 seconds ahead of Dupont in the GC. As Tiernan-Lockes first race back from injury, and a stage race at that, 22rd isn't bad at all and looks encouraging for the future.

Quintana though will surely ride to victory tomorrow as Stage 4 doesn't look like a game changer, adding to his growing Palmares. Already this year Quintana took victory in the Tour of Murcia ahead of Jon Tiernan-Locke who finished second. He also held his own in the Dauphine and at 22, already a team leader, the future looks very bright...

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