Cycling: Nairo Quintana pips Richie Porte for title

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Colombia’s Nairo Quintana fended off overwhelming favourite Richie Porte of Australia to take a surprise overall win in the Tour of the Basque Country yesterday, writes Alasdair Fotheringham.

The 23-year-old Movistar rider finished second in the final, hilly, 24-kilometre time trial at Beasain, 17 seconds down on world champion Tony Martin, which was enough for Quintana to claim the biggest win of his career.

Paris-Nice winner Porte, victorious on Friday’s mountain stage, was a below-expectations fourth in the time trial, 40 seconds behind German Martin, and had to settle for second overall, 23 seconds adrift of Quintana in the final standings.

Porte’s Sky team mate and former race leader Sergio Luis Henao of Colombia dropped to third at 34 seconds.

“I’ve been looking for a big win like this since Paris-Nice,” Quintana said. “I don’t know if you can call this [victory] a surprise. “This time trial definitely suited me. When a time trial is not flat, then I can be up there with the big names in races like this one.”

Having beaten Sky’s two favourites, while Spain’s top contender Alberto Contador faded to finish tenth in the time trial, Quintana said he had bigger goals. “My idea is to fight for a Grand Tour in the future.”

In 2010, Quintana took the Tour de L’Avenir, cycling’s top stage race for young riders and was snapped up by leading Spanish squad Movistar in 2012.

Last year, he inflicted a rare defeat on the all-powerful Sky in the hardest Alpine stage of the Criterium du Dauphine, the key warm-up race for the Tour de France.