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Movistar coach: Quintana at his best yet

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Colombian Nairo Quintana, twice second and once third behind Chris Froome at the Tour de France, is recording his best training data yet ahead of the race start this weekend, says Movistar’s team coach.

Quintana has been previewing Tour stages and training around his Monaco base over the last month since placing second in the Giro d’Italia behind Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb). Coach Mikel Zabala is reviewing his power to weight numbers and sees data that’s better than last year ahead of the Tour.

“At the moment he’s had his best power numbers and his motivation is high,” Zabala told VeloNews.

“We think this year should be better for him looking at his numbers, but you have to consider how the others perform. Maybe the Tour wasn’t his best but in training beforehand last year, he showed his best values yet.

“These numbers that I’m seeing now are a bit better. We are talking about some watts higher, but in the end, those watts make a big difference.”

The tiny Colombian from the East Andes weighs 123 pounds and could be as light as 121 pounds when the Tour reaches its crucial stages in the Pyrenees and Alps.

Trainers and riders typically examine watts per kilogram, or how much power a cyclist can produce divided by his body weight. Zabala was asked to reveal Movistar’s top secret, Quintana’s watts per kilo.

“No!” he responded. “It’s like asking Real Madrid before the Champions final who’ll be the goalkeeper. I could say his watts, but then what does it matter if he has cramps on the climb or something?”

From his base along the Côte d’Azur, Quintana tests himself on one of cycling’s most famous training climbs, the Col de la Madone. On the cycling social media platform Strava, Kenny Elissonde (Sky) holds the best time. The top guns in the peloton, however, either don’t post on the network or they keep their big rides private.

Richie Porte (BMC Racing) said in 2014 he clocked the top time of 29:40, but Quintana may have topped it.

“People are too obsessed with watts/kilo on some climbs, but you have to consider what happened before the climbs and the different situations for the riders. Sometimes those things are much more important than watts,” Zabala said.

“You can be the world champion on a climb, on the Madone, but that’s one thing. You have look at the big picture, 21 days.”

The 27-year-old Quintana has not raced a single day since the Giro d’Italia ended in Milan on May 28. Movistar planned for him to ride the Giro-Tour double and try to win both races. Now the team hopes he emerged from the Giro strong.

Quintana held the pink jersey into the Giro’s last day before Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) overpowered him in the time trial to Milan by 31 seconds.

“We always kept the Tour de France in mind,” Zabala said. “You have to try different things if you want to beat Froome, and in theory, Nairo is stronger in the second grand tour of the season. Besides, this Giro miss could make him that much more of a fighter in the Tour.”

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