ASOLO, Italy (VN) — Nairo Quintana is about as far away as possible from the Giro d’Italia this month.
It’s not that he has anything against the corsa rosa; quite the contrary, Quintana became the first Colombian to win the Italian grand tour in 2014. This season is all about the yellow jersey, and after winning the Tour de Romandie earlier this month, the Movistar climber returned to his high-altitude base in Colombia, and will stay put until late June.
Movistar manager Eusebio Unzué confirmed that the only race Quintana will start before the Tour is the Route du Sud (June 16-19) in the French Pyrénées — no Critérium du Dauphiné or Tour de Suisse.
“He will stay in Colombia to take advantage of the altitude as long as possible,” Unzué said. “He will race the Route du Sud to regain the rhythm of racing, but that’s it.”
Movistar has high hopes for Quintana in July. Alejandro Valverde is racing his first Giro this month in large part to clear the way for Quintana to have undisputed leadership of the powerful team at the 2016 Tour.
“I think we are going to see the best version of Nairo ever in this year’s Tour,” Unzué continued. “After twice finishing second at the Tour, he is more mature and more experienced. He is very focused on winning the Tour this year. Of course, he’s been capable of winning, but this year we will see an even stronger and determined Nairo.”
Quintana is off to the best start of his career, either winning or finishing on the podium in four stage-race starts this season. He was third behind his victorious brother, Dayer, at the Tour de San Luís in January, third again at the Vuelta al País Vasco in April, and book-ended victories at the Volta a Catalunya and Tour de Romandie, two races that featured arch-rival Chris Froome (Sky) at the start line.