The snow falls, the rain pelts, the winds howl, Nairo Quitana rolls to victory.
The Colombian not only sealed overall victory in Tirreno Adriatico, but also cemented his reputation — built during the treacherous conditions of last year’s Giro d’Italia — as a hard-man stage racer.
While ematiated skeletons like Sky’s Chris Froome seem to need good weather to ride at a high level, Quintana proved once again that, Extreme Weather Protocol or not, he is tenacious enough to win in the worse weather.
It’s a trait he shares with defending Tour de France champion Vincenso Nibali — who won the Giro two years ago in apocalyptic conditions. Last year he used his skill in the rain and over the cobblestones as the launch pad for his Tour victory while Froome abandoned the Tour before the stage was over.
If memory serves, it was Nibali who beat Sky in Tirreno-Adriatico a few years back when Mother Nature played havoc with their best laid plans. Marginal gains go out the bus window then your best rider is afraid to chase down a wet mountain road.
Alberto Contador has also shown that he can cope with miserable conditions when he has to win a race. El Pistolero always has a few bullets, rain or shine.
However the sight of Quitana rocketing away from the rest of his rivals on the way up to Terminillo would scare anybody, even Froome, Nibali and Contador. Like Lance Armstrong in his EPO heyday, Quintana seems to almost relish aweful conditions, knowing the rest of the peloton is nervous and unwilling to take the risks to win big.
We always hope for a few rainy, cold days in the Alps of the Pyrenees during the Tour to separate the timid skeletons from the agressive skeletons. Chris Froome’s odds of winning another Tour de France will be determined by his legs and Mother Nature’s mood.
Critics are still debating whether Quitnana should have kept his time gains on that disputed Giro stage run in terrible conditions. What isn’t up for debate is that Quitana will use any means nessessary to win a stage race and the worse the weather, the better his chances.