Colombia’s great hope for the Tour de France, Nairo Quintana, took the unusual step of racing the Dwars door Vlaanderen this year.
Dwars door Vlaanderen is known for being a rough race, and the conditions this year were no different: pouring rain and temperatures in the single figures. With icy winds lashing in as well, it wasn’t a pleasant ride at all. Nairo had done it before in 2015, though, and said before the race: “Even though I’m not made for it, I really like it.”
The answer lies in the Tour de France itself. Stage nine features long sections of pavé, cobbled tracks which few riders relish. There’s been speculation that there might be attacks aplenty there this year, so each of the main contenders has been looking to get some practice in on the treacherous stones.
In the end, Nairo rode within himself, finishing six and a half minutes back in 60th place. He won’t be disappointed though – he was only there to test the cobbles in race conditions, and he handled them with aplomb. His teammate Alejandro Valverde finished eleventh in what is his warm-up for the Ardennes Classics.