Nairo Quintana won stage 4 of the Tour de San Luís in Meta, Argentina, on Thursday. Quintana (Movistar) rode away for victory on the Cat. 1 Cerro El Amago climb late in the 168-kilometer leg from El Potrero de los Funes.
Sergio Godoy (San Luís Sodos Tomos) was second, 50 seconds in arrears, and Darwin Atapuma (BMC Racing) was third, a further 42 seconds back.
“The team was crucial for my performance, they were always at my side, early with the chasing work and then into the climb, breaking the bunch into pieces,” Quintana said. “They were sensational. This victory is dedicated to them, to my wife, to my parents, and to my baby, who is about to be born and is the most beautiful thing in my life.”
Overall leader Phil Gaimon (Garmin-Sharp) lost more than four minutes on the stage, but held onto the leader’s jersey with three days of racing remaining. Quintana now sits second, trailing the American by just four seconds. Previously second, Marc de Maar (UnitedHealthcare) is now third overall, at 1:15.
After a series of attacks from Godoy and teammates, Quintana unleashed an acceleration that no one could match.
“When the climb began, there were a lot of attacks from the San Luís Somos Todos riders, but when we reached 10 kilometers to go, Quintana did a very strong attack,” Atapuma said in a press release. “I wasn’t able to follow him immediately because I was suffering in the heat. But after some kilometers, I recovered a little bit and was able to not lose a lot of time for the overall.”
Atapuma is now fourth overall, 1:36 behind Gaimon.
“I saw Movistar at the front coming into the base of the climb, and Nairo attacked from the bottom,” Gaimon said. “I think his teammates know he is the best climber here, and that he could do exactly what he did on the climb.”
The Tour de San Luís continues Friday with the 19.2km stage 5 individual time trial in San Luís.
“We don’t know much about Gaimon. He’s on Garmin, so he’s probably good in the TT,” said Quintana. “If I could have won the race today, I would have done it. We will have to wait and see what happens.”
As for Gaimon, who is a strong TT riders, he’s more concerned about the summit finish, Saturday, on stage 6.
“Four minutes and four seconds are very different,” he said. “I time trial pretty well, but I’m not sure about how I time trial at this level. I will do my best. I think I can hold [the race lead] one more day, it’s the last climb [stage 6] that I am worried about.”
Neal Rogers, on assignment in Argentina, contributed to this report.