As the snow fell remorselessly on the peloton of the Volta a Catalunya in the stage finish at Valter 2000, a shivering Nairo Quintana (Movistar) rode slowly round in circles after crossing the line before finally pulling to a halt, pulling on some dry clothing and talking to a small group of journalists.
Fifth on the stage at five seconds behind stage winner Teja van Garderen (BMC), Quintana was unable to repeat his 2013 victory on the Volta's toughest summit finish of 2014. Even so, he remains in fifth overall and said he was pleased that he had managed to cross the line in the midst of the favourites, slightly behind Van Garderen, race leader Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) but slightly ahead of Chris Froome (Sky).
Quintana has been ill after a reconnaissance of a couple of the Giro stages following Tirreno-Adriatico, and - between coughs - said he still feels "a little ill because of that. Let's hope I get over it soon and I can keep building towards the Giro as I want to."
"But either way the road to the GIro is going well, the important thing here was to be sure the team was in good shape, and that's certainly the case."
"I ended up losing a few seconds in that sprint," he recognised, "but it was a very tough day, the snow affected all of us a lot."
"We went up the climb very fast, with a lot of attacks, there was also a bit of poker-playing between us favourites and finally the American [van Garderen] attacked. We've all been together and that was good. Contador went for it a bit, so did Froome, but it was Van Garderen's attack that worked out the best."
Asked about the rest of the Colombians in the race. and how they had performed collectively, he answered with a smile, "you'll have to ask them when they get here."
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