Nairo Quintana (Movistar) had to fight the effects of a fever during the mountain stage in Andorra on Wednesday. The Colombian admitted he went close to quitting the Vuelta a Espana during the intensely mountainous stage 11.
Quintana finished 14th on the stage, 4:19 behind stage winner Mikel Landa (Astana) and three minutes behind new race leader Fabio Aru (Astana). He was also a minute down on his Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde and slipped to ninth, 3:07 behind Aru in the general classification.
Quintana stayed in the main field on Thursday’s downhill stage out of Andorra, happy just to still be in the Vuelta.
“The other night I had a tough time, with a fever. Fortunately I got ride of it for the stage but I paid the price for its effects. I even thought about retiring a couple of times, only using my determination to stay in the race,” he said.
“I didn’t want to abandon my team. I’d hope to be there on the stage and help out but I couldn’t do much. But we’ll fight on. I hope to recover and help the team.”
Valverde now seems to be Movistar’s overall contender. He is sixth overall, 1:52 down on Aru.
"We knew it would be a very hard day, and while it was a bad result, I don’t think we could have done better. We 'rode pretty well and I'm happy,” he said.
“It is true that we have lost some time to Aru, and to Purito Rodriguez but still alive in this Vuelta and there still a long way to race. Now we can’t lose any more time and hope to pull some time back. That’s what we’ll work towards.”