Nairo Quintana hails ‘spectacular’ Vuelta victory

The Colombian beat Tour de France champion Chris Froome by just 1 minute and 23 seconds to win his first Vuelta title.

Nairo Quintana hails ‘spectacular’ Vuelta victory

Quintana wins Vuelta crown

Nairo Quintana held off Tour de France champion and closest rival Chris Froome to win the Vuelta a Espana on Sunday.

Quintana beat out Froome by 1 minute and 23 seconds to take home the second Grand Tour of his career after previously won the Giro d’Italia in 2014.

The Colombian was cheered by thousands of his jubilant countrymen through the streets of Madrid as the Vuelta came to a close in the country’s capital. The final stage, a rather more pedestrian 105km ride from the suburbs into the city centre, was won by Dane Magnus Cort Nielsen in a sprint finish ahead of Daniele Bennati and Gianni Meersman.

Quintana held off pressure from Chris Froome to win the 2016 Vuelta

A dream come true for Quintana

Quintana said following the stage that his Vuelta victory was a long-held dream. “This is spectacular, it’s a dream come true,” he said.

I have tried so many times to win the Vuelta. This morning it was in my head that I was the winner but I still had to cross the line and until then I couldn’t celebrate,” he added.

Froome's best season yet

Chris Froome, who this summer won his third Tour de France title, said he was content despite missing out by such a fine margin.

Froome cut Quintana's lead with a spectacular performance in the final time trial but it proved too little too late.

Of course I was here to fight for the victory, but after the season we've had with the Tour, Olympics and Vuelta, this has been the best season for me so far,” he said. 'I love this race, I love the Vuelta, the people here, the feeling on the race. It's tough, it's the toughest race and I hope to come back in the future.'

He was also gracious in defeat, praising Quintana’s achievement: “'Nairo was great this Vuelta, Team Movistar were great in the Vuelta and I have to say Chapeau! to them because they really rode well and deserve the victory.”