|Giro d’Italia winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) had much more than his first ever Grand Tour victory to celebrate this Sunday: the 24-year-old Colombian is also – for the first time in his career – the new leader of the UCI WorldTour’s individual rankings.
Thanks to his Giro d’Italia victory, Quintana moves from 14th place with 137 points into the top spot of the UCI WorldTour, with 345 points overall. Spain’s Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) drops a place to second, with 308 points, whilst Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) slides from second to third, with 264 points.
Second overall in the Giro d’Italia behind Quintana, and repeating his 2013 runner’s-up place in the same race, was fellow-Colombian Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), with promising young Italian rider Fabio Aru (Astana ProTeam) completing the podium in third. Uran gains a staggering 112 places in the UCI WorldTour thanks to his 2014 Giro d’Italia performance, moving from 117th to 15th, whilst Aru gains his first UCI WorldTour points of the 2014 season and is now 21st.
All three podium finishers in the three-week long, 3,445.5 kilometre Giro d’Italia took at least one stage win during the race. But Quintana’s dramatic attack on the Val Martello climb on stage 16, when he soared to a solo victory and the lead in the Giro d’Italia’s most difficult day in the Dolomites, proved to be the most decisive.
The Colombian then netted his first Grand Tour win with a solid defence of his lead on the two tough mountain stages that followed, as well as claiming a second stage win on the Cima Grappa uphill time trial on stage 19.
“It’s very difficult to explain just how overjoyed I’m feeling about this, I can hardly fit all my happiness in my body, it’s one of the best days of my life”, Quintana, 24, said at the race finish in Trieste on Sunday. “My thanks to everybody who’s helped me make this dream come true”.
The two other riders to make big gains in the UCI WorldTour thanks to the Giro d’Italia were Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R La Mondiale), fifth in the Giro d’Italia’s final general classification and now ninth in the UCI WorldTour individual rankings, and 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans (BMC Racing), who led the 2014 Giro d’Italia from stages eight to 12. The Australian is now tenth in the UCI WorldTour.
Neither the UCI WorldTour nations ranking, nor the teams ranking were witness to a change of leader, with no change in the points total for the number one ranked country Spain, who are still on top of the classification with 805 points.
Colombia, however, have made huge gains, moving from eighth to second with 684 points – much of which is due to scooping first and second place overall in the Giro d’Italia with Quintana and Uran. Australia remain in third place, with 611 points.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step stay firmly on top in the teams ranking too, with 789 points. However, whereas before the Giro d’Italia, second placed Movistar were nearly 200 points behind, now the Spanish team have 776 points, meaning the margin between the two leaders of the UCI WorldTour teams ranking has shrunk to just 13 points.
With Quintana now taking a well-earned break, his rivals will now have plenty of opportunities to try and overtake Movistar rider in the UCI WorldTour individual rankings. But Quintana’s success represents a big step up for the Colombian too – and the 2014 Giro d’Italia winner will now surely remain in contention for the outright victory in the individual rankings right the way through the remainder of the season.