Colombian cyclist Nairo Alexander Quintana drew international attention after climbing to third place in the classification of the Tour de France Thursday.
Quintana, born in the central Colombian town of Combita, Boyaca, climbed from the fourth place after performing surprisingly well in the 18th stage from Gap to Alpe d’Huez where he ended fourth and pushed himself to only 20 seconds after the number two in the general classification, Spain’s Alberto Contador.
The Colombian’s direct rivals in the general classification received a blow by the Colombia, who left his contenders way behind and was able to crawl a minute closer to Chris Froome, leader in the world’s most important cycling race.
“As I was already tired this morning it was good to have a fresh stage, without really hot conditions – this suits me better because I didn’t think I would have the legs to attack Froome at the finish,” Quintana was quoted as saying on the Tour de France website.
With only three stages to go, the 23-year old Colombian is almost certain to be awarded the white jersey for best young rider, but will have to fight for a place on the podium in the general classification as five riders are within one minute of each other.
“I’ve never been as happy as I am today: I’ve gone from sixth to third overall, I’ve taken one minute out of Froome’s lead… I didn’t realise that he had some problems but my timing was ideal. I had a bit of luck. Tomorrow and the next day are very hard stages so have to recover quickly and get ready for the challenges that lie ahead… but I accept that winning this Tour is no longer an obtainable objective – the gap to Froome is too big,” said Quintana.
- Nairo Quintana: I’ve never been as happy as I am today (Tour de France)