Two stages of high mountains in the Giro d'Italia have yet to see Nairo Quintana (Movistar) make a much-expected attack on the tougher climbs, with the Colombian snatching two seconds on Saturday on leader Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) in a hectic finale but then failing to do more than follow wheels on Sunday.
But as the Colombian told reporters, whilst he donned an extra jacket after the finish to keep warm for the descent back down the climb to the team bus, his injuries from the big crash on the Monte Cassino stage on Thursday are affecting him, with a buttock injury in particular “hurting a lot whenever I have to react to attacks.”
"I'm up there with the favourites, I haven't lost time on another stage," Quintana, thirteenth on the stage where he finished with a group of 21 favourites and currently ninth at 1:45 on Evans, said.
"However, my legs weren't great and it was impossible to follow Pozzovivo when he attacked, he's going very strongly in the mountains."
"My injury is hurting a lot, particularly when there are attacks, but I hope to recover on the rest day. It's come just in time."
Conscious of the massive following he has amongst fans back home in Colombia, Quintana thanked them for their support, but admitted the stage had been "difficult. One rider [Pozzovivo] has gained time on us, I hope it's not important."
"But the injuries are affecting me, and I don't feel as good as I'd like."
Quintana's next opportunity to pull time back on Evans and the rest of the favourites will come on stage 14 to Oropa.
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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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