Colombian phenom Nairo Quintana dashed to victory in Saturday’s climbing stage to open the two-day Vuelta a Murcia in Spain.
The 22-year-old attacked on the Cat. 1 Alto del Collado Bermejo with 7km to go from the finish-line in the Sierra Espuna. He followed an attack from 2012 season revelation Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Edura) and eventually dropped the British rider on the descent to the line and soloed home with a 14-second victory ahead of the chasing Wouter Poel (Vacansoleil), with Tiernan-Locke trailing through third at 16 seconds back.
“I came really focused to this Vuelta a Murcia. I knew that, despite the last descent, this was a stage suiting me really well, and that’s why I rode really concentrated to my objective,” Quintia said. “The team left me in perfect position before the climb, Tiernan-Locke attacked really hard at the foot and I went for him. He pushed hard all climb and tried to drop me like he did in Haut Var, but I withstood his pace and made my attack with 1.5k from the summit.
“I didn’t know how skilled for the descents he was and took all risks because I knew I had to get alone before the end of the climb. I made a confident descent, riding well into the turns and I could keep my gap to win.”
Movistar’s Sergio Pardilla crossed the line fourth at 16 seconds adrift while Olympic champion Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) was fifth at 26 seconds back.
Quintana, who won two stages and won the 2010 Tour de l’Avenir, claims his first professional win with the victory ahead of some heady company.
The overall will be decided in Sunday’s 12.3km individual time trial on a flat, technical course in downtown Murcia.