Tour de France

The Tour de France (French pronunciation: [tuʁ də fʁɑ̃s]) is an annual bicycle race held in France and nearby countries. First staged in 1903, the race covers more than 3,600 kilometres (2,200 mi) and lasts three weeks. As the best known and most prestigious of cycling's three "Grand Tours", the Tour de France attracts riders and teams from around the world. The race is broken into day-long segments, called stages. Individual times to finish each stage are aggregated to determine the overall winner at the end of the race. The rider with the lowest aggregate time at the end of each day wears the leader's yellow jersey on the next day of racing. The course changes every year, but the race has always finished in Paris. Since 1975, the climax of the final stage has been along the Champs-Élysées

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CYCLING

Stunning Tour de France cycling debut for Colombian Nairo Quintana

Colombian is King of the Mountains, best young rider and surprise runner-up

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 July, 2013, 3:36am
 

Nairo Quintana broke down in tears as he came to terms with his stunning achievement on his maiden Tour, securing a double haul of jerseys and a surprise runner-up place.

Quintana's stage win on Saturday moved him up to second overall at five minutes three seconds behind Chris Froome, but also helped secure the King of the Mountains' polka dot jersey as well as the white jersey for the best young rider.

"I'm lost for words. It's a spectacular day. I never thought success on the Tour de France would come to me so quickly," said Quintana.

"I wasn't sure how things would work out, but my team believed in me and during the whole Tour they have been there for me to give me moral support."

Quintana had said his main objective on this year's race was to win the white jersey, but his victory on the race's final climb secured the polka dot jersey too, denying Froome a double that had not been achieved since Eddy Merckx in 1970.

He follows in the footsteps of Lucho Herrera and Mauricio Soler by winning the King of the Mountains title for Colombia, a country able to produce natural climbers in the high mountains of the Andes.

Soler won the title in 2007, but was forced to give up the sport having never fully recovered from a fall at the 2011 Tour of Switzerland in which he fractured his skull.

Quintana spoke glowingly of his countrymen. "I want to pay tribute to all the Colombians who have won on the Tour de France and I want to say a special thanks to my compatriot and friend Mauricio Soler.

"I hope he get's well soon because he has helped me immensely along the way."

Quintana himself trains at altitudes of close to 3,000 metres, so conquering Alpine summits of 2,000 metres is not a problem, as the Movistar rider displayed on the Col de Pailheres in the Pyrenees and again on Saturday.

However, he has handled the pressure brilliantly in what is his first Tour de France, just a year after he turned professional.

"What people [in Colombia] really love is the polka dot jersey, because that's what symbolises our cyclists."

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