|Courtesy of Cycling News|
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Nairo Quintana Wins Pais Vasco
Columbia back on the rise, Nairo Quintana "Spanks" the competition
for the win
The Tour of the Basque Country (Pais Vasco) is a six stage bicycle race held in the Basque Province of northern Spain. This race is over 50 years old and has cemented itself as an important Spring classic and as training for the grand tours of the summer (Giro Di Italia, Tour De France, Vuelta A Espana). For the first time in 20 years, a Colombian rider has grabbed hold of a major victory and has set the tempo for other Colombian riders to follow.
Some readers might think this is just another sport article about bicycle racing, a topic which has worn thin to many people due to the corrupt actions of some of the athletes in the sport. And while it is an article about bicycle racing, let us not generalize this cyclist's great achievement with the regrettable actions others may have taken in the past. This guy deserves full credit for his hard work, including the training before the race that put him in peak form and in prime position to win Pais Vasco.
Nairo Quintana is no stranger to success in this sport either. The diminutive, five foot seven inch Colombian with strong, indigenous features won the Vuelta a Murcia last year, a race only consisting of two stages but nonetheless one that put Quintana on the spotlight. At 23 years old, Quintana is a rising star that can only get better as time goes by.
Researching the back story of Quintana makes him all the more relatable. Nairo Quintana was not born of wealth and did not come from a pedigree of great cyclists. Quintana grew up in a family of peasant farmers who lived high up in Colombia's mountains. With the walks to school being exhausting for Quintana, his parents worked hard to save up $30 to buy Nairo Quintana his first bicycle, a cheap mountain bike. Nairo would race to and from school, prentending to summit finish once he got back to his house, and that he was King of the Mountains that day. One day his dreams actually materialized as he finally got his chance to enter professional cycling.
Quintana worked hard on Stage four of the race, which had over five summit finishes. The stage was held in freezing temperatures coupled by a relentless rain which wore down the majority of the peloton. Nairo was able to hold a minute and thirty second advantage over the peloton for the majority of the race that day. When the peloton finally caught up to him, Nairo made an attack on the last few meters before the finish, thus winning the stage. On the time trial at stage six, he took another 20 seconds away from the leader of the general classification, securing the overall win.
Nairo Quintana was spectacular to watch and I am looking forward to seeing him further develop his repertoire as more racing comes his way. It's a job well done for Nairo Quintana, and hopefully a sign for what's to follow with Colombian and Latin American talent gaining traction in the cycling world.