Nairo Quintana: Volta a Catalunya win ‘gives me confidence’

Nairo Quintana claimed the Tour of Catalonia by seven seconds ahead of Spaniard Alberto Contador on Sunday in one of the key races leading into the Grand Tour season.

Colombian cyclist Nairo Quintana of Movistar Team with his brother and team-mate Dayer Quintana (C) compete next to Alberto Contador (L) of Tinkoff during the seventh and last stage of the 96th Volta a Catalunya cycling race, in Barcelona, on Sunday. Quique Garcia / EPA / March 27, 2016
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Colombia’s Nairo Quintana won the Volta a Catalunya on Sunday with the final stage – a 136km circuit around Barcelona’s Montjuic area, the site of the 1992 Olympic Games – going to Alexey Tsatevich of Russia.

Quintana, head of the Movistar Team, took the lead in what is Spain’s oldest stage race at the end of the fourth stage at Port Aine and he never looked like losing that on Sunday.

The Colombian successfully resisted a series of attacks from Chris Froome, Alberto Contador and Dan Martin in a race that featured the majority of this year’s contenders for the Tour de France.

While Tsatevich edged out Slovenia’s Primoz Roglic in a sprint finish, Quintana finished seven seconds clear of Spain’s Contador (Tinkoff) overall with Ireland’s Martin (Etixx) in third at 17 seconds off the pace. Defending champion Richie Porte of Australia was fourth.

Tour de France champion Froome (Team Sky) was forced to settle for eighth place as he ended 46 seconds adrift.

“There’s a lot of emotion to have been able to beat my rivals. It gives me confidence that we are working well,” said Quintana, who, like Froome, was racing for the first time in Europe this season.

However, he was mindful not to read too much into the result, adding: “I won the Tour of Catalonia by seven seconds, which isn’t very much.

“It doesn’t show that I’m ahead of anybody, but it shows that I’ve been doing a good job.”

Quintana successfully defended his advantage over Contador in Sunday’s final stage to win the Volta a Catalunya for the first time. Quintana stayed close to Contador from the start of the last stage and his lead was never in jeopardy. He finished with the same seven-second gap he carried into the closing stage, becoming the third Colombian to win the race after Hernan Buenahora in 1998 and Alvaro Mejia in 1993.

Quintana took the overall lead in the Pyrenees on Thursday.

The weeklong event in north-eastern Spain attracted some of cycling’s top riders. Quintana’s task was made a bit more difficult because three of his Movistar teammates were ill and could not finish the race to help him.

It was the 96th edition of the Volta a Catalunya.

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