The official statistics for 10th stage of the 2014 Vuelta a Espana will show that Tony Martin won the individual time trial from Monasterio de Santa Maria de Veruela to Borja and that Alberto Contador claimed the red jersey as race leader, but hidden amongst that detail is the drama which ensued just after the first checkpoint. It was there that Nairo Quintana not only lost valuable time but nearly suffered serious injury in a very dramatic crash.
After negotiating the only real climb of the day, the riders passed through the first checkpoint and then embarked upon a fairly technical descent include some sharp bends in the road. Quintana had already posted a decent split time relative to the other contenders as he approached one particular tricky curve and appeared to be adjusting his riding clips as he attempted the manoeuvre.
Unfortunately for the Colombian, his bike failed to survive the bend either due to rider error for via mechanical means. Quintana crashed into the safety barriers at the side of the road and he somersaulted over the bike and onto the road, ripping the back of his jersey in the process. The damage to his bike was irreparable but as the red jersey rider lay on the road, there was genuine concern for his well-being.
Road racing cyclists have often been widely acclaimed for their ability to cope with the myriad of lacerations, bruises and grazes gathered from crashes which would confine several other members of the sporting fraternity to seek a few weeks of convalescence. Quintana is no different and after two minutes regaining his composure, he was sitting on the saddle of a new bike and ready to complete the course.
The Colombian eventually lost a swathe of time after his accident finishing in 82nd position on the stage and is now 3mins 25 seconds behind new race leader Contador who is 27 seconds ahead of second placed rider Alejandro Valverde.
When interviewed after the stage, Quintana appeared unflustered claiming the brakes of his bike had failed and that he had been able to manage the situation without incurring any significant injury. His reaction would suggest that a potentially damaging and spectacular crash was all part of a day’s work.
As the Vuelta enters several mountain stages in the days ahead, a renewed challenge by Quintana to the apparent dominance of Contador is still a possibility but it may be more reasonable for the Colombian to provide assistance to his Movistar team mate Valverde as he would now seem the more likely danger to Contador. Quintana is famed for his climbing ability as he proved during the 2014 Giro d’Italia but it will take a supreme personal effort for him to now overhaul the race leaders.
On the evidence of the drama during the time trial, Quintana will not fail for a lack of bravery.
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