Nairo Quintana came just 31 seconds short to winning the 100th Giro d’Italia and claiming what would have been his second overall success in the first Grand Tour of the season. The Colombian and his Movistar Team, holders of the pink jersey for three days and true fighters all over the race – especially into the final week – to make up the distance which Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (SUN) had gained over all of his rivals into the first time trial in Foligno, saw the 53-second advantage the ‘Cóndor’ held before the 29.3km ITT showdown from Monza to Milan vanishing at the last day of racing.
Quintana, whose 27th place in the time trial -1’39” behind the winner- was enough to share the podium at Milan’s Duomo cathedral with Dumoulin (1st) and Vincenzo Nibali (TBM, 3rd), gave everything to pay back an extraordinary Movistar Team for their efforts, all nine riders completing a flawless race with all-around strong performances. Amador, Anacona, Bennati, De La Parte, Herrada, Rojas, Sutherland and Gorka Izagirre (author of the Blues’ first stage win in Peschici, a streak Quintana extended with his ‘tappa e maglia’ atop the Blockhaus) took care of their leader as no other team could have done this month.
The Spanish outfit also accomplished a milestone feat in their four-decade history: winning a first team GC in the Giro and completing a treble of Grand Tours alongside the Tour and the Vuelta -all already obtained in Movistar colours; the last three (VCE, ’15; TDF, ’16; GDI, ’17) in barely 20 months- which only five other teams in history have been able to claim.
Nairo Quintana: “A podium finish is not something to be disappointed about. We’re not machines, we can’t do everything we want as we want before a race. Sometimes, you don’t get the prize you want, even when you work hard to accomplish your goals. More in contrary: we’re happy, satisfied about this result. The best thing in this Giro was the great teamwork – I have no words to describe how grateful I am towards the whole Movistar Team. We could have done it better, maybe worse, but we’re on the podium and that’s what counts right now. Dumoulin didn’t look like the main rival for us before the race, yet he bested everyone with excellent TT and mountain performance. He really deserves this victory.
“We continue to grow, to gain experience. Today’s TT is a big experience, really. There were also moutnain stages where I could have done better, but the legs just felt like they did. I went through some illness at a few stages into the final week, days where I could just manage to stay with the GC group. Still, we knew before today’s TT that we needed a bigger advantage heading into the final TT. 70km of time trials are too many when you’ve got to defend yourself against riders like Tom. I think we did a nice job at those, though.
“This Giro makes me feel even more confident about my consistency on Grand Tours. If you prepare well, you’ll be up there with the best guys in the race – that’s a huge boost of morale. We’re willing to continue working hard after this, and several things are looking good before the Tour – my legs seem to be doing well. Also, there will be many details to correct, things to polish. The Giro has been a huge test whose results we’ll have to analyze from now. I want to thank all fans, especially those in Colombia, for their support and messages. We left everything on the road, and I hope we made them proud about our efforts.”
Eusebio Unzué: “To be honest, I’m delighted with the way Nairo was able to contain his rivals to remain in second place. We knew before today’s TT that a 53-second gap in such a flat TT would not be enough to retain the Maglia Rosa, yet Nairo performed really well to his standards. We just didn’t stand a big chance against such a strong rival as Dumoulin. He already left some signs of his GC-contending caliber at the 2015 Vuelta, and succeeded in grand style here in the Giro. His performance over the TTs and also in the mountains was impeccable. Regarding ourselves, we’re satisfied about Nairo and his podium finish; those two stages by Gorka and Quintana; and the whole team, which was fantastic from day one to 21. I’m just thankful towards everything the Movistar Team did in this race, not only riders but also the whole staff.”