Nairo Quintana: “Let’s hope this one is a jersey we can keep for a longer period!”

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Nairo Quintana completed one of the best rides in his pro career on Monday atop the Lagos de Covadonga, end of stage 10 in the 2016 Vuelta a España.

The Colombian wrote his name down the list of winners in the legendary climb in Asturias, and got back to GC leadership in the Vuelta a España with a minute’s gap over his own team-mate Alejandro Valverde.

“Let’s hope this one is a jersey we can keep for a longer period!”, said Quintana after the stage. “What I felt and saw today was wonderful – it really makes me confident that I can fight to win this Vuelta. I felt well all over the day, leaving aside that crash in the beginning. The great work by the whole team was visible today, and made for a bigger motivation to win and reward them with the stage. I had always dreamt to win here and I could make that dream come true today. It really makes me happy to put my name under this stage, and especially how we did it, together with the team. It would have been impossible without them.

“I felt myself strong in the beginning of the climb and it was easy to get into the right position, thanks to the fantastic pace by all of my team-mates, above all Rubén Fernández. He made it look easy and avoided all previous attacks. As I saw he was running out of gas, Alberto’s (Contador) attack came – I followed him and jumped twice to open the gaps with Froome and seek for the stage win. Chris remains pretty much close for the remainder of the race. We must to continue to pick up the pressure, doing the same we’ve done until this point: attacking and attacking to keep him further. Should we keep this minute we have when the Calpe TT looms, he’ll be the main favourite. I think three minutes would be a reasonable gap to tackle the time trial with calmness.

“It feels great to lead the race. I always trusted my abilities, but sometimes you feel better while other times your body reacts worse. Now that everything goes through the right path, I enjoy and live everything with great excitement. What my body asks from me at this point is saluting my whole family, especially my mum. She always prays for me so everything can go right. I just love her – he’s the best mum I could ever dream of having. Also, this goes for the team – they’ve made possible for me to fulfil these dreams. It’s not only about those in the Vuelta, but the whole group in general. Tomorrow? We’ll have to keep our legs rolling for a while and trying to recover after the early crash.”

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