Quintana’s severely upset stomach had left the rider on the point of quitting during the Andorra stage and the day after, and even en route to Tarazona on stage 13, the Movistar climber had briefly been dropped.
However, stage 14 was a very different story altogether. The Colombian was the only favourite able to stay on Fabio Aru’s wheel when the Astana rider attacked some 5km from the top, and he even managed to gain a little time on the race leader by the finish.
Seven seconds up on Aru at the line, Quintana has advanced from 11th to ninth overall. His illness appears to be definitely behind him, and the Colombian’s next goal, it seems, is to try and “at least make it onto the Vuelta’s podium.”
“I’ve had some very bad days, but at least the worst is over,” Quintana, the first of the favourites to reach the finish line, in sixth place, said afterwards.
“I hope at least to be able to go for the podium, there are still a lot of stages left out there where I can pull back time and which I can use.
“If I have the same kind of feelings as today, then I could recover some time.”
Quintana says he is not fully recovered, with his stomach still giving him “a lot of pain.” But he is notably more optimistic, or as he put it, “I’ve seen today that my legs are going well.”
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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