Quintana wins mountain time trial, extends lead
BASSANO DEL GRAPPA, Italy (AP) Colombia’s Nairo Quintana showed off his climbing strength and increased his lead in the Giro d’Italia with a victory Friday in the 19th stage, a mountain time trial.
Quintana, runner-up at last year’s Tour de France, clocked 1 hour, 5 minutes, 37 seconds over the 26.8-kilometer (16.7-mile) route from Bassano del Grappa to Cima Grappa.
Italy’s Fabio Aru finished second, 17 seconds behind, and Colombia’s Rigoberto Uran was third, 1:26 behind.
”I had a great feeling and I took full advantage of it,” said Quintana, who rides for the Movistar team. ”I was really well prepared.”
After his second stage win in this year’s race, Quintana moved 3:07 ahead of Uran in the overall standings.
Aru moved ahead of Pierre Roland into third, 3:48 back.
Giuseppe Martinelli, Aru’s team director with Astana, continued to discuss the controversial 16th stage, which was also won by Quintana amid questions whether the dangerous descent from the Stelvio pass was supposed to be neutralized or not.
”I think that conditioned the race,” Martinelli said. ”Quintana probably would still have won but not with a three-minute advantage (on Aru).”
The opening five kilometers (three miles) of the time trial were nearly flat but then the road tilted uphill dramatically, reaching a gradient of 14 percent at one point.
Many riders changed bikes after the flat section, going from a specialized time trial version to their regular road bikes for the climb. Quintana even changed his helmet.
”It only cost me a few seconds,” Quintana said. ”I was really calm. We practiced it.”
Stage 20 on Saturday is the race’s last mountain leg, a 167-kilometer (104-mile) route that starts in Maniago and finishes with a climb up the demanding Monte Zoncolan.
”I think I already did today what the fans wanted to see,” Quintana said. ”Tomorrow I hope me and my team can control the stage.”
The race ends on flatter ground Sunday in the northeastern port city of Trieste.