Nairo Quintana (Movistar) won the third stage of the Vuelta a Burgos on Friday.
The stage contained seven categorized climbs and finished on the summit of Lagunas de Neila, an HC ascent.
Movistar worked all day in support of its leader Quintana, so much so that the Colombian appeared to have fresh legs for the finishing climb and he was able to ride to victory and into the leader’s jersey ahead of Dani Moreno (Katusha) and Mikel Landa (Astana).
Quintana leads Moreno by one second in the general classification, while David Arroyo (Caja Rural) is 37 seconds back in third. The 24-year-old won the Giro d’Italia in May and is preparing for the upcoming Vuelta a Espana.
“It was spectacular, winning here again — everyone in Burgos always treats me well and supports me whenever I come here,” said Quintana. “I really like the province and I’m proud to have won again on this climb. The team was fantastic and kept me calm before the final ascent. When the rivals attacked, I kept looking behind to control Dani Moreno — to see if he was on my wheel, to know the gaps. When we went into the final kilometer I saw them getting out of my reach, with Dani still behind. I knew I had to give everything to drop him. Fortunately, I could do it. I’m leading the race by just one second, which shows that we’re pretty much equal on force. I felt well today, though many others might be doing better than me. Now it’s just a matter of giving it all at the TT on Sunday; I don’t think anything serious should happen tomorrow, but we’ll stay focused in the finale”.
After several riders launched attacks on the slopes of Lagunas de Neila, Quintana stayed calm until the final section of the ascent. Riding with three others, Quintana put in a handful of big efforts to bridge the gap to the leading trio up the road.
Eventually the attacks shed the other riders in his group, and the break up ahead was whittled down to just Landa. With less than a kilometer remaining, Quintana caught up to Landa and surged past him, leaving him in his wake as he continued up the mountain.
Quintana then soloed the rest of the way to the finish line.
As the final climbs approached, Movistar led a small group at the front of the race. Quintana was tucked safely behind three teammates’ wheels, and he had another teammate directly behind him for added protection.
Once the group crested the Cat. 1 Pasil De Rozavientos with 30km left in the 170km stage that began hours earlier in Comunero de Revenga, the pace immediately increased on the subsequent downhill. The riders reached speeds of at least 80 kph as they navigated the narrow and twisty mountain road.
The pace remained fast on the next climb of the Cat. 2 Alto Del Collado, and Movistar once again led the group over the top with about 9km left to go.
A quick descent followed before the final ascent to the finish line saw the most drama of the day.
The race resumes with Saturday’s stage 4, a 142km route from Medina de Pomar to Villarcayo that features three Cat. 3 climbs.