Not as catastrophic as his previous time losses in the 2017 Tour de France, Nairo Quintana again finds himself on the back foot but not down and out. A day after his Pyraneen raid to claw back 1:48 minutes on the likes of Fabio Aru, Chris Froome and Romain Bardet, Quintana shipped 21 seconds to Froome in the Rodez finish.
Coming into the Tour after his second place finish at the Giro d'Italia in May, Quintana has been lacking the climbing prowess which has seen him twice finish second and once third at the French Grand Tour. The steep finish into Rodez was not expected to see further shake up to the general classification which is the closest in race history at this stage of the Tour. However, positioning proved crucial in the finale and Quintana explained that he preferred not to the any risks
"It was a fast stage, and after the wear and tear from yesterday we were finishing at a steep climb which didn't really suit my abilities. It was also difficult to get to the foot in a good place, because you must keep an eye on any crashes and avoid risks against tall, strong riders whose goal is chasing the stage win," said Quintana.
"You think more about your own safety and seek for further chances on the upcoming days. I though they weren't going to make that many splits, but that's OK - sometimes it's better to remain in one piece that chasing those risky 20 seconds."
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After 14 stages of the 2017 Tour, Quintana sits in eighth place at 2:22 minutes to Froome. At the same point in the 2013 Tour, Quintana was 5:18 minutes down on Froome and would finish 4:20 minutes in arrears in Paris. In 2015, Quintana was 3:10 down and arrived in Paris just 1:12 behind Froome who celebrated his second Tour title. There was no late surge from Quintana in 2016 and despite being closer to Froome than any of his previous three Tours, the Colombian's GC chances have largely been written off.
Quintana is still focused on the podium in Paris and explained he will aim to shake things up starting Sunday across the Massif Central before the important foray into the Alps on Wednesday and Thursday.
"Let's see how we can get them back tomorrow and whether our legs continue do well. We must keep trying. We're more eager after yesterday's result and the team really trusts me to make it up," added Quintana who has finished on the podium at his last three Grand Tours.