Nairo Quintana (Movistar) slipped off the Tour de France podium after losing just over two minutes to yellow jersey Chris Froome (Team Sky) in the stage 13 time trial. Quintana was always going to struggle in Friday's time trial compared to his Tour de France rivals, but his tiny frame made fighting the early winds an even more challenging task.
The Colombian lost time quickly, posting a time that was 50 seconds slower than the soon to be stage winner Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) at the opening checkpoint. That increased to 2:30 as he dropped to 25th at the second check but he rallied and climbed back up a few spots, overtaking the likes of Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) and Richie Porte (BMC) in the last section – although his gap to Froome still increased.
Following his ride, the press descended on the Movistar rider, who warmed down by riding up and back down the hill after the finish line, giving himself some time to collect his thoughts. Eager to hear his thoughts, journalists jostled for position and the normally softly spoken Colombian had to raise his voice to make himself heard to the growing crowd that now surrounded his bus.
"I gave it all that I could. There was a lot of wind at the start, and it is logical with my lesser weight that it would affect me more. In the final section, the legs were responding better, and I recovered some time," Quintana told the press from the sanctuary of a team vehicle. "I was giving my maximum the whole time, but I think that in the opening section I was really affected by the wind."
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Quintana slipped to fourth place overall at 2:59, close to the time he had lost at this point last year, with the Alps still to come. In the 2015 edition, Quintana was able to crack Froome in the Alps but not enough to take the yellow jersey from his shoulders. With three more stages in the high mountains and an uphill time trial, Quintana will have to ride an aggressive race if he hopes to take Froome's place at the top of the podium.
"Like always, I am going to try [to attack]. Physically, the legs are ok, and I will always try," Quintana said. "It’s quite far, but I hope that the legs will continue to be good for the many mountains. We hope that we will be able to recover [from it]."
Quintana's teammate Alejandro Valverde fared much better against the clock and jumped up a few places in the overall classification after suffering on last Sunday's stage to Andorra. The Spaniard is now only 18 seconds behind his teammate, enough to keep Movistar on top in the overall classification.
"We did a good time trial. It was 37 very hard kilometres, but I am satisfied. We accomplished the goal that we have been looking for," he said. "Ultimately, I have improved a bit. Every time I do it, I feel more comfortable."