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Nairo Quintana has faced an uphill battle,...

Quintana’s complicated recovery from surgery shouldn’t slow run for yellow

Nairo Quintana's recovery from shoulder surgery goes rougher than expected, but he still expects to be in top form for the Tour de France

Nairo Quintana was all smiles last week at a four-day Movistar team camp, but he’s been gritting his teeth with a slow recovery from shoulder surgery in September.

The Colombian superstar came down with tendonitis in his right arm in the wake of a complicated recovery from surgery, following his early exit from the Vuelta a España on September 3.

“I am still not 100 percent, and I still recovering, but it’s getting much better now. I came down with a little bit of tendonitis, and have been barely able to train,” Quintana told VeloNews. “In terms of the fracture, that has fully recovered.”

The 24-year-old said nagging pain made it difficult for him to ride his bike comfortably, and he’s only recently returned to a full training schedule. Luckily for Quintana, the surgery came during the off-season, and he does not expect any problems in what will be an all-out assault on the Tour de France.

“I will debut at the Tour de San Luís,” Quintana continued. ” We are developing a good calendar to prepare ideally for the Tour. The goal is to arrive at the Tour in best possible condition.”

Quintana survived one of the most harrowing crashes of the season when he over-cooked a corner in stage 11 at the Vuelta a España, and went somersaulting over the handlebars.

Quintana showed great resilience, and with a bit of luck, was able to stay in the Vuelta. Despite losing the leader’s jersey, he vowed to keep racing. It was an early-stage pileup the next day when he landed heavily on his shoulder that sent Quintana packing, and left him with injuries that continues to prove complicated for the Colombian superstar as he prepares for an assault on the yellow jersey next summer.

Quintana underwent surgery in Spain on September 4 for fractures in his coracoid process, located at the top of the scapula in a critical part of the shoulder. Doctors called the injury “complicated,” and inserted two screws to help assure a speedy recovery.

Quintana returned home to Colombia, and said he began to develop tendonitis in his right arm because his arm was immobilized in a sling for nearly a month, altering his range of motion in the weeks that followed.

That kept him off the bike, and although the crash and subsequent surgery ended his 2014 campaign, it happened at the tail-end of the season.

“I am nearly back to 100 percent,” Quintana said. “So hopefully it will all quickly be forgotten.”

Long road to the Tour
Movistar made headlines last week when the team announced that both Quintana and Alejandro Valverde would each contest the Tour and the Vuelta a España. There was some conjecture that Valverde might race the Giro d’Italia for the first time, but the team decided it was better to have both of their aces in the same deck for their most important dates on the calendar.

“With Nairo and Alejandro working together, we have better chances of success. We are stronger together, rather than dividing our strength,” said team manager Eusebio Unzue. “They can share the responsibility of the race between them. We go with Nairo as leader, but [in] Alejandro we have the assurance of a leader who has the experience that few in the peloton can bring to the Tour.”

The pair likely will not overlap beyond the Tour and Vuelta. Movistar will spread their two leaders across the rest of WorldTour calendar, which not only avoids any potential internal conflict, but also gives Movistar a chance to win nearly every major race on the international schedule.

While it’s not set in stone, team officials outlined Quintana’s rough schedule. After debuting at San Luís in January, Quintana will return to Europe in March, most likely at Paris-Nice, with Valverde racing Tirreno-Adriatico. Quintana is expected to race the Volta a Catalunya, with Valverde returning to the Vuelta al País Vasco. Both will likely race across the Ardennes, where Valverde will be the team’s best bet. In June, Valverde is expected to race the Critérium du Dauphiné, with Quintana likely racing the Tour de Suisse for the first time.

“We want to be competitive in every race we start,” Unzue said. “With Nairo and Alejandro, we have two leaders who will start every race with the idea of riding for the overall. It’s obvious that it’s better for us to spread them around the calendar.”

Quintana’s tentative 2015 calendar
Tour de San Luís
Paris-Nice
Volta a Catalunya
Ardennes classics
Tour de Suisse
Tour de France
Vuelta a Burgos
Vuelta a España