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"He thought I was stronger than I was really feeling, and that's why he talked to me, telling me we should keep pushing to leave Contador behind, and he'd let me win the stage. But I knew it was a bit of 'fake agreement'...

Photo: Sirotti






15.07.2013 @ 10:28 Posted by Jesper Ralbjerg

1,400 meters separated Nairo Quintana from writing his name among the legends of the Tour de France in one of the iconic stages of the 2013 edition, the longest in this year's race: more than 242 kilometres between Givors and the summit of the Mont Ventoux were covered at a hellish pace from start to finish.


An acceleration from Quintana’s teammate Rui Costa at the beginning of the steepest sections made a selection in the group of favourites and prepared Quintana's attack which was launched 13km from the top. The Colombian quickly gained more than thirty seconds as he took the lead of the course along with Mikel Nieve (EUS).


Behind, the pace dictated by Porte (Sky) and the move by Froome - breaking the group and dropping Valverde (Movistar), who struggled to finish in 13th place - caught Quintana 7km from the finish. After two unsuccessful attacks, race leader Froome left Quintana marooned one kilometre from the summit.


Despite the sour-sweet second place, the Movistar rider reclaimed the white jersey and is now 6th in the overall, 5’47” behind Froome, but just 1’22” off the podium.


“Today's [Sunday] result is good. I felt well all day, and even though we didn't win, we were at the front and we took back the white jersey which we lost in the TT,” Quintana explained. “I attacked because I saw many riders struggling and knew it was a zone where very few could keep a strong pace. The idea was to win some time and get close to the podium; I knew the white jersey would come with that attack and I dreamt of winning the stage, too.”


Froome urged collaboration

Quintana said that Froome had offered him the stage if he had been able to collaborate with the Sky leader all the way to the summit. Such a feat, however, was beyond the abilities of the Colombian on the day.


"Unfortunately, Froome caught me. He's way superior to the rest. The first attack came from behind and took me out of focus. I followed his wheel in the distance and ended up bridging. He thought I was stronger than I was really feeling, and that's why he talked to me, telling me we should keep pushing to leave Contador behind, and he'd let me win the stage. But I knew it was a bit of 'fake agreement', because I saw how strong he was and I had to fool him a bit to get that far into the climb. He needed to take more time, I'm not at the same level and even though he didn't fulfil his promise, I understand him. I knew I wouldn't be able to put up with another attack, and when he moved, I didn’t go all out, took a breath and went at my pace until the finish so as not to lose too much time.


"I hope to keep the white jersey and take some more time to be on the podium. There are some tough stages coming up, plus the TT, where I hope not to lose as much time to the other rivals as in the first one. It suits me better than the flat one - should it be flat, heavier riders would make things difficult, but I'm convinced I'll perform well. These days are taking their toll, though: the stages are longer, you've got to get up earlier, and you don't rest as much as you would like... but this is the same for everyone - I think next week's stages will play in our favour.”



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