Nairo Quintana can cycle up a mountain

I suppose we knew that anyway, but the fact has been driven home in the last two days with Quintana proving himself the strongest Grand Tour rider in the race by some margin.

Stage 19

There’s something very satisfying about a cronoscalata – an uphill time trial. It’s the bare bones of road cycling laid bare. You get to the top as quickly as you can, fastest wins. No drafting, no conserving energy, no attacks, no team-mates. Just leathering it and breathing funny.

Nairo Quintana was fastest, but Fabio Aru was only 17 seconds behind him. That’s a very, very impressive performance from the young dude who won stage 15. At 23, he is yet another young rider to emerge from this Giro as someone worth watching. Rigoberto Uran was third, which surprised me slightly, even if he lost over a minute to Quintana. Domenico Pozzovivo was fifth.

Stage 20

The overall win was basically Quintana’s by today, but this penultimate stage still loomed large for many. You can definitely make a proper balls of things on the slopes of Monte Zoncolan with double-digit gradients for the majority of the 10km climb.

Sadly, the Zoncolan is such an obvious centrepiece that it attracted a higher than average concentration of roadside dicks. Running alongside the riders is just about okay. Pushing them is annoying. Getting in their faces and draping yourself around them is just out and out bloody infuriating – and that’s just watching at home. The riders get really pissed off and justifiably so. Many aren’t averse to making their feelings known and it’s amazing how the offenders look crestfallen when their heros strike out at them. I guess the steeper the gradient, the more readily empathy and human awareness run downhill.

Michael Rogers won the stage – his second of this year’s Giro – but he didn’t know that the man he’d been duelling with, Francesco Bongiorno, had suffered as a result of what I’m going to call some ‘passionate support’. In short, a complete knobhead tried to shove him onwards, but only succeeded in creating a massive wobble which meant Bongiorno had to unclip from his pedals, losing his rhythm and chances of victory as a consequence.

Against a backdrop of emotion…

Further down the mountain, Quintana was restating his position as the anti-Voeckler, completely refusing to engage a single facial muscle at any point.

And why should he? Surely he’s earned the right to not have any feelings whatsoever through his stunning performances. That’s right, Nairo? You cross the line to basically win the 2014 Giro d’Italia and you enjoy yourself to the full by maintaining exactly the same facial expression you’ve sported for the last three weeks.

Even a prick with a Colombia flag couldn’t persuade him to emote.

The general classification

It’s one of those processional sort of stages to finish with tomorrow, so the following should be the final standings, barring cholera, leprosy or somesuch.

  1. Nairo Quintana – 83h50m25s
  2. Rigoberto Uran – 3m07 back
  3. Fabio Aru – 4m04s
  4. Pierre Rolland – 5m46s
  5. Domenico Pozzovivo – 6m41s