Quintana's Tour de la Provence victory the start of a promising season for Arkéa-Samsic

AIXENPROVENCE FRANCE FEBRUARY 16 Podium Alexey Lutsenko of Kazakhstan and Team Astana Pro Team Nairo Quintana of Colombia and Team Arka Samsic Multicolour Leader Jersey Aleksandr Vlasov of Russia and Team Astana Pro Team Celebration during the 5th Tour de La Provence 2020 Stage 4 a 1705km stage from Avignon to AixEnProvence TDLP letourdelaprovence TDLP2020 on February 16 2020 in AixEnProvence France Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Nairo Quintana took overall victory in the Tour de la Provence in the chilly boulevards of Aix-en-Provence to establish Arkéa-Samsic as a force to be reckoned with this season.

The rejuvenated Colombian has suddenly discovered a new passion for France, just it seems, as the French have for him. "He's one of cycling's greats," his team manager Emmanuel Hubert insisted. "And he's still around 15 per cent short of top form. There's more to come."

Quintana's overall win was based on an unexpectedly solid showing from his new Arkéa-Samsic team who tactically dominated the key moments in Saturday's pivotal stage to Chalet Reynard ski station on Mont Ventoux.

In a display of team cohesion that surprised their rivals, Quintana was able to lean not just on co-leaders Nacer Bouhanni and Warren Barguil, but also fellow Colombian, Winner Ancona and veteran, Maxime Bouet, on the brutal climb up Mont Ventoux to Chalet Reynard.

"It's my fourth season in the team and frankly, it's the first time we have ridden so well," said Bouet, who himself spent most of the 2019 season battling injury.

"No mistakes, perfect positioning, great solidarity," Bouet said of his team's performance. "Its pretty impressive and very promising."

"Winning overall is what everybody wants after so much work," Quintana said. "It's a gift to all the French people who've supported a French team winning in France and hope it's the start of a great era for Arkéa-Samsic."

Quintana's victories in the past week – his first and second of 2020 – bring Arkéa-Samsic's season tally to four, with the other two coming from fellow new signing Nacer Bouhanni, who won stage 1 of the race. With February midway done, the team is already one off their total for the whole of 2019.

The Colombian's campaign will continue next week at the Tour du Var et des Alpes-Martimes, before continuing on to Paris-Nice, the Volta a Catalunya and the Ardennes Classics.

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