Giro d’Italia: Stage 9 – Montenero di Basaccia to Blockhaus (152km)
I’m trying to warm to Nairo Quintana. It’s not him… it’s me. Actually maybe it is him, or at least his immeasurable talent. When he bursts away from the front of a group of knackered, struggling challengers, the race is over. He brings the fun to an end too soon. We saw it in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, and the Tirreno-Adriatico earlier this year. We saw it today in the Giro.
Weirdly though, I can’t help liking the riders that help him with that success, riders like Winner Anacona.
It could be the name. As magnificent as it is, it’s a typo. The story is that his cycling-mad father planned on naming him Winnen Andrew, after Peter Winnen and Andrew Hampsten. But not speaking English well, this somehow became Winner, which I suppose counts as a happy accident.
It could also be the unconventional appearance, with long hair, a hint of Orlando Bloom, and a crucifix that doesn’t seem to bother him as he rattles up a climb. He’s also thin, young and fast, which makes him the cyclist the rest of us like to think we look like when stomping up a 4 per cent drag, right up to that point when we get home and catch sight of ourselves in the bathroom mirror.
And while Anacona (come to think of it, I like his last name too) didn’t win today, he showed the job of domestique at it’s most captivating – riding low over his handlebars and into the wind. He rode his countryman up the Blockhaus at maximum effort for 15 minutes, a selfless and sweaty display of teamwork, passing the 7km to go marker before Quintana took off, showing just how good he is at ruining all the fun.
That left the long hair Anacona to make his own way to the top, albeit at a more human pace. A Winner, for sure. Just not that winner.