Nairo Quintana completed one of the best rides in his excellent pro career on Monday atop the Lagos de Covadonga, end of stage 10 in the 2016 Vuelta a España (189km). Supported by a sensational Movistar Team, the Colombian wrote his name down the list of winners in the legendary climb in Asturias, and got back to GC leadership in the Vuelta a España with a minute’s gap over… his own team-mate Alejandro Valverde. The Spaniard - 5th over the summit - showed again that his experience and class are unrivalled in the pro scene, and remains fully in contention after spending two-and-a-half Grand Tours within the top guns.

The squad directed by José Luis Arrieta and Chente García Acosta -which suffered an early crash (10km in), with only minor blows and bruises (knee, hip and elbow - Nairo), for Quintana himself as well as Rory Sutherland- took command in the field with 60km from the end. The relentless duo of Rory and Imanol Erviti pushed hard into the flat before the Mirador del Fito (Cat-1) and on the section between the penultimate climb and the foot of the ‘Santina’, where Jonathan Castroviejo took the relay from the two big rouleurs. With the gap quickly shrinking from 2’30”, which the day’s break held at the bottom of the climb, 'Castro', José Herrada and a fantastic sensacional Rubén Fernández selected the group with big turns into the first half of the ascent. With 6km to go, the decisive moment came: an acceleration from Alberto Contador (TNK) forced Nairo to react.

Quintana’s two attacks helped him to drop Contador back, leave Chris Froome (SKY) behind and close in on solo leader Gesink (TLJ), eventually overtaking the Dutchman to win the stage with twenty-three seconds on Froome. The Briton, dropped at the beginning of the climb, started progressing in his usual, consistent style to reach Alejandro Valverde, who always rode on his own pace. The two ended up pretty much close to the Colombian from the Movistar Team, which takes the Blues up to 33 victories in 2016 and leads both the GC and Combination standings. ‘Bala’ has taken over the 1st place in the Points ranking.

The 58-second gap between Nairo and Froome in the overall classification means Quintana will have to keep attacking into the second part of the race, looking towards the decisive stage 19 TT in Calpe. For the moment, the Blues will enjoy a much-deserved first rest day in Asturias on Tuesday.