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Toppling Froome top priority for Quintana

MADRID (AFP) — Nairo Quintana insists his bid to deny Chris Froome a third-straight Tour de France crown will not be derailed by his decision to ride the Giro d’Italia before that.

The Colombian finished on the podium in each of his three rides at the Tour de France, but behind three-time winner Froome on each occasion in 2013, 2015, and 2016.

However, for the first time he will tackle the Giro-Tour double on the 100th edition of the three-week ride around Italy in May, which Quintana won on his only previous attempt in 2014.

“The 100th edition of the Giro was always attractive, but what gets us most excited, the one where we have unfinished business, is the Tour de France,” Quintana said on Wednesday as his Movistar team held its 2017 team presentation in Madrid.

Movistar manager Eusebio Unzué said his team will crunch physiological data to ensure that Quintana is in form for the Giro but also ready for the challenge of the Tour. “There are 33 days between these two races, and that is ample time for him to recover,” he said.

Quintana believes previous experience shows he reaches his peak in a second grand tour of the season. In 2016, he was unable to challenge Froome in the Tour’s high mountains, but he won the Vuelta later that season.

“This year we’ve made that bet. It will be a big challenge to face the Tour after the Giro,” said Quintana.

Froome is aiming to become just the fifth rider in history to win four or more Tours, and Quintana admitted the Briton will arrive fresher to the start line in Dusseldorf on July 1.

However, in contrast to previous seasons, Quintana has been clearly confirmed as Movistar’s team leader despite the presence of veteran Alejandro Valverde and believes he has the team around him to topple Team Sky’s recent dominance at the Tour.

“He [Froome] is in the best stage of his sporting career, and we are developing, growing; we have a great team that does everything with great heart and that commits me to fight and beat him,” added Quintana.

Valverde will take part in the Tour and is expected to lead Movistar in the Vuelta a España on home soil in August and September.

Quintana and Valverde get their seasons under way at the four-day Challenge Mallorca event, which begins Thursday.

2017 Team Movistar roster

Andrey Amador (Costa Rica, 30 years old)
Winner Anacona (Colombia, 28)
Jorge Arcas (Spain, 24)
Carlos Barbero (Spain, 25)
Daniele Bennati (Italy, 36)
Carlos Betancur (Colombia, 27)
Nuno Bico (Portugal, 22)
Richard Carapaz (Ecuador, 23)
Héctor Carretero (Spain, 21)
Jonathan Castroviejo (Spain, 29)
Víctor de la Parte (Spain, 30)
Alex Dowsett (GB, 28)
Imanol Erviti (Spain, 33)
Rubén Fernández (Spain, 25)
Jesús Herrada (Spain, 26)
José Herrada (Spain, 31)
Gorka Izagirre (Spain, 29)
Adriano Malori (Italy, 28)
Dani Moreno (Spain, 35)
Nelson Oliveira (Portugal, 27)
Antonio Pedrero (Spain, 25)
Dayer Quintana (Colombia, 24)
Nairo Quintana (Colombia, 26)
José Joaquín Rojas (Spain, 31)
Marc Soler (Spain, 23)
Rory Sutherland (Australia, 34)
Jasha Sütterlin (Germany, 24)
Alejandro Valverde (Spain, 36)

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