The Colombian mountain specialist (Movistar) attacked 30km before the finish and fought his way to an impressive solo victory in Arosa.
Tour de Suisse: How well do you remember the 7th stage of the Tour de Suisse 2018?
Nairo Quintana: Yes, I remember it well. I had just completed a few important training weeks in Colombia. This stage played a key role for me: it was an acid test for my stamina, and it was also important for my team to see that I was in good shape for July.
TdS: Until Chur the race was relatively unspectacular, a large escape group led the race. Then everything changed with the first few meters of the ascent. Was your attack at the foot of the incline planned a long time ago?
NQ: Yes, it was all part of a strategy that we had worked out together with the team and especially with our sports director José Luis Arrieta. By the way, it was José’s birthday on that day – a double reason to celebrate. Even before the ascent we gained some weight together with Daniele Bennati and accelerated in the plain. We wanted to catch up with the big breakaway group of almost 30 riders that had formed right after the start. Here we benefited greatly from Víctor de la Parte. His support was essential to launch the attack.
TdS: What goes through your head when you escape solo at the foot of a 30km long uphill section?
NQ: I was aware that this would be very difficult and exhausting. At the same time, the performance of the team had shown me that they would accompany me as far as possible. And that’s how it happened.
TdS: No one could follow you, the nervousness in the ranks of BMC was palpable.
But did you know about the long flatter section in the middle of the climb?
NQ: Yes, and here De la Parte was central to our strategy: I could not possibly have mastered this flat section alone. Without the support of the others and good teamwork I would not have been able to keep the lead.
TdS: In this flatter section you had caught up with the escape group, but had to do all the work alone. Did this situation annoy you, or could you just ignore the group of riders on your rear wheel?
NQ: Thanks to the support of De la Parte I was not completely alone on the flat part of the track. Besides, Mikel (Landa) was behind me and went on the attack several times to disturb the rhythm of the BMC team. I myself had asked him to.
TdS: Richie Porte only benefited from the intensive work of Greg van Avermaet who led him through the middle section and was able to follow Jakob Fuglsang on the last climb. Was your joy a little clouded that in the end you didn’t have more time to look out for the leader Richie Porte?
NQ: not at all. For me personally, the stage win was already a huge success, as it was also my first win of the year. It was also an enormous moral support for the team in view of the challenges ahead. At moments like these, you don’t start to think about whether the lead was big or small: a stage win in the Tour de Suisse is something special in itself.
TdS: After the final time trial in Bellinzona, the 3 final place was for you. Was the GC podium a fixed goal for you or rather a stage win?
NQ: The overall victory was not my main goal. On the contrary, our goal at last year’s Tour de Suisse was to cause a stir. We achieved this with this first small “hurdle” in Arosa and in the time trial, which went pretty well.
TdS: As a professional cyclist you are on the road almost all over the world, what did you notice in Switzerland? What are lasting impressions?
NQ: I was particularly impressed by how tidy everything is. Unique race tracks, very nice and tidy villages … And the fans here are enthusiastic about it, but still very respectful. The quality standards of the race are very high in many ways.
TdS: Thank you, Nairo, and good luck for the season. We hope to see you again in June!
NQ:Thanks a lot! Yes, if it is compatible with our planning, I would be incredibly happy to see you again either this year or otherwise in the coming years.