Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) won the final summit finish to Lagunas de Neila, with enough of a gap to claim the overall classification triumph as well.
The Colombian had to fight on his own during the final climb, and against Ivan Basso (Cannondale), David Arroyo (Caja Rural) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
Despite Basso’s rhythm, Arroyo’s attacks and Nibali’s will to defeat him hand-to-hand, Quintana stayed cool and launched his decisive acceleration under the red kite of one kilometre to go, in the steepest part of the climb, counter-attacking Nibali, who then faded.
Arroyo managed to keep a good pace to arrive second and claim the same position in the final GC.
“I’m so happy, everything went great today”, stated Quintana. “I had such strong rivals today. And I wasn’t scared of them, but I had doubts whether I could reach their level or not. My team worked hard at the head of the peloton and relied on me once again, which gave me confidence.”
Indeed, Movistar performed very well, spurred by the presence of manager Eusebio Unzué and having a solid contender for glory in the line-up. The blue squad controlled the race for the whole day, in defiance of the harsh parcours, with five categorized climbs in the final 65 kilometres, and the aggressive mood of the field.
It took one hour and a half of racing for a group of escapees to break free. They were Ben Gastauer (Ag2r), Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural), Robinson Chalapud (Colombia), Igor Merino (Euskadi) and Francesco Failli (Vini Fantini). The skirmish was caught with three climbs to go, but was still enough for Txurruka to secure the Mountains classification..
Visconti, Szmyd et al led the pack to foot of Lagunas de Neila, hardly disturbed by isolated attacks of Lluis Mas (Burgos BH) and Mikel Bizkarra (Euskadi). It was on the final climb that the battle heated up, with André Cardoso (Caja Rural), Paolo Tiralongo (Astana) and Cayetano Sarmiento (Cannondale) having a go before leaving the race up to the three men who stood in the podium of Giro d’Italia 2011 and Nairo Quintana.
The anecdote of the stage was provided by a TV helicopter which, during the final climb, flew too low and threw Mikel Landa (Euskaltel), Tiralongo and Sarmiento out of the road with its wind. Fortunately, there weren’t further consequences and the trio could rejoin and finish the race without much damage.