There were some – he gained time on Bahrain-Merida's Vincenzo Nibali and FDJ's Thibaut Pinot – but they were far outweighed by Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) chasing down his attack with apparent ease and then blasting away in sight of the line to win the stage and pick up a 10-second time bonus.
Quintana is now 2:47 down on the Dutchman. There is still a lot of hard racing and a lot of climbing to come in the final week of the Giro d'Italia but Dumoulin now has the upper hand both mentally and physically, while Quintana – at least for now – is no longer the strongest climber of the race. El Condor's wings have been clipped by Dumoulin's power and growing confidence.
Dumoulin's ability to chase down Quintana must have hurt Quintana hard, as did his final kick, which won him the stage and put 14 seconds between the two riders.
"It was a different end than we'd hoped for, we'd hoped to do better on this stage," Quintana admitted.
"I think I made a great attack on the climb but it was not enough. Today we saw Dumoulin's climbing ability. I spent all the strength I had to test my rivals but Dumoulin was really strong red and the climb really well. On the positive side, we fired some time on some of my rivals and we've got to be satisfied with that."
Quintana was gracious but defiant in defeat, mixing excuses with his race analysis.
"In general the legs have've responded quite well, as I expected. The wind was blowing out partly in favor and that may have benefited a different type of rider to me. The good thing is that I did not lose too much time," he argued.
Quintana and Movistar, like all of Dumoulin's rivals at the Giro d'Italia, can only hope that the Dutchman will show some sign of weakness in the final week, perhaps on the toughest courses on the Stelvio and through the Dolomites, when multiple climbs at altitude will be far more testing than the relative short and fast climb to Oropa.
"The stages of the third week should suit me better, they're very different to this one, which was a single climb to the finish," said Quintana, perhaps trying to convince himself as much as the media scrum listening to his every word.
"With all the climbing that Remains in this Giro we have to continue fighting. I feel good. The data we have indicates I should be good in the final week. As long as we have strength, we will try everything possible until the Giro is finished."
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