Successful Week of Spanish Racing Comes to a Close

Sun 11 Aug 2013

After four sprint days, the climbers came to fore on the final stage of Vuelta a Burgos. Nairo Quintana (Movistar), fresh off his spectacular Tour de France ride, won atop the final summit with enough of an advantage to claim the overall title. Christian Meier was the team’s top finisher on stage five in 32nd place, 8’24 before the Colombian climber.

“It was a hard day after four very exciting days for the team,” said Meier. “I hung on with the front group for as long as I could but when I eventually fell off the pace, I set my own rhythm to the top. This race gave us all some really good training before our upcoming objectives.”

It took more than an hour for the escape group to break clear of the bunch. Ben Gastauer (Ag2r La Mondiale), Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural), Robinson Chalapud (Colombia), Igor Merino (Euskadi) and Francesco Failli (Vini Fantini) were kept on a short leash over the hilly parcours.

“We had been thinking about the breakaway today,” said Meier, who spent the first to stages of the Spanish tour up the road. “All of us covered a bunch of moves in the beginning. Eventually, four riders got away after 50km. None of us had made the break but not for lack of trying.”

With three categorised climbs left to cover, the break rejoined the reduced bunch. Mid-way up the penultimate climb, only 15-20 riders led the race. Meier lost contact with the elite group before the summit.

“We had been looking after Daniel [Teklehaimanot],” noted Meier. “We thought he might have a crack today. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the legs. The second to last time up the category one climb that the stage finished on top of, Movistar went the front and they really drilled it. I hung on for as long as I could. I got dropped when there maybe 15 guys left in that group.”

From there Meier backed off the pace and set a steady but comfortable tempo to the summit finish. Quintana, Ivan Basso (Cannondale), David Arroyo (Caja Rural) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) eventually emerged as contenders for the stage win with Quintana launching a fatal attack under the flamme rouge.

“It was quite a hard day, but it was a great week for the team,” said Meier. “We had two stage wins, two days in the break and controlled the race yesterday in the sprint. We all raced well. The lead-out seems to be coming along well and hopefully we can continue with this good momentum for the rest of the season.”