Friday, January 24, 2014

Reach for the sky.

His wingspan may not be big, but his power to weight ration sure is. Photo Credit: Sky Sports
Nairo Quintana was arguably the biggest revalation of the UCI pro tour last year. His spring wins in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco and the Vuelta a Burgos were the first signs that he had something to offer come July, but it was his performance that month that really launched his entry into the collective cycling consciousness.  His consistently strong performances in the mountains of France garnered him the Polka Dot climbers jersey and he was also the best young rider of the tour. In his home country he returned to a welcome befitting a national hero and took his place among the legendary Colombian Escarabajos such as Lucho Herrera, Fabio Barra and Santiago Botero to name a few. 

Just as quickly as that performance had ended however, questions began to surface about whether or not he could continue such strong performances in 2014. Was it a fluke or just the beginning of a great career that may one day result in a place on the top step of the podium on the Champs Elysee? Well if his blistering performance in the mountains of Argentina today are any gauge, he is more than up to the task. 

It was an eye popping show of strength as he rode up the steep category 1 Alto El Amago and away from many of the best climbers in the world on route to a 50 second win over Argentinian native Sergio Godoy. The days podium was filled out by Nairo's Colombian countryman Darwin Atapuma. Quintana nearly made up all of the 4 minute 19 second deficit in the overall standings to Garmin's Phil Gaimon and with more climbing stages to come his chances of adding another mid level stage win to his growing palmares seem strong. All of this of course adds to the early excitement for this years grand tours and the possibility that if allowed take the start this July in France (Movistar team management has yet to make an announcement as to whether or not he'll ride the Giro, Tour, or Vuelta) he'll be more than ready to take the fight to Froome, Nibali and the other favorites in the peloton. 

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