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Quintana believes late sickness cost him the Giro

By Andrew Hood • Updated
Despite taking the pink jersey on Friday's stage 19, Nairo Quintana says he was feeling less than 100%. Photo: Tim De Waele | TDWsport.com

MILAN, Italy (VN) — Despite falling just short in the Giro d’Italia, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) remains convinced he could win the Giro and Tour de France in one season.

Quintana lost to a superior time trialist at this Giro, ceding the pink jersey in Milan’s dramatic final-day time trial, losing the Giro by 31 seconds.

Falling just over a half-minute short of fulfilling the first half of the double, now he sets his sights on the Tour de France defiant as ever.

“One cannot be disappointed,” Quintana said. “We are not machines. Things don’t always turn out as you hope. We worked hard, but there’s not always the payback you’re hoping for.”

Quintana revealed that he woke up with a slight fever on the decisive stage 19 to Piancavallo on Friday, and said he couldn’t fire all of his cylinders at 100 percent on a key day the team wanted to deliver the knockout punch to Sunweb’s Tom Dumoulin. The Dutchman lost time, but Quintana said he wasn’t able to finish him off because he was feeling slightly sick.

When asked if he lost the Giro that day, he replied, “One could say that.”

“I woke up feeling a little bad that morning, and I couldn’t give 100 percent on that decisive day,” he said. “It was a day that we had marked on the calendar, and we were hoping to make a big differences. But the health wasn’t with us, and it didn’t turn out as we had hoped, but we kept pressing, and we ended up with this podium.”

Quintana was proud that he could defy some of the naysayers in the 29.5km time trial into Milan, when more than a few suggested he could finish off the final podium despite holding a 38-second lead Sunday.

“We did a great time trial today, and some even said yesterday that we could lose the podium,” he said. “I was thinking about winning, and to finish second, well, that’s not bad.”

Quintana remained defiant, and said that the Giro-Tour double is possible, admitting earlier that he came into this Giro at less than 100 percent in order to be able to take the demands of racing in July.

“I am still convinced that you can do the Giro-Tour double,” he said. “We were second here, and with 70km of TT that were not favorable to me. Now we go to [the Tour], convinced as always that we can win.”

With second place, Quintana keeps his impressive grand tour legacy intact. In seven of the past seven grand tours he’s finished, he’s never been worse than fourth, won two (2014 Giro and 2016 Vuelta a España), and finished three times on the Tour podium.

With second, however, he is stopped short of matching Marco Pantani, who is the last rider to win the Giro and Tour in the same season, in 1998. The Pirate’s mark remains safe, at least until someone else dares to try. Perhaps Chris Froome? Maybe after he wins his fifth yellow jersey.

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