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With a Giro d'Italia title under his belt, Nairo...

Movistar targets Tour win for Quintana

With a climbing-centric 2015 route, the time is right for Nairo Quintana and his Spanish outfit to vie for victory at the Tour de France

MADRID (AFP) — Spanish cycling team Movistar said Friday it feels the time is ripe for its Colombian climber Nairo Quintana to realize his potential by winning the 2015 Tour de France.

The 24-year-old was second in the 2013 edition, but was rested from the 2014 Tour after winning the Giro d’Italia.

He was also leading the Vuelta a España in 2014 before crashing badly in the time trial.

There are precious few time trial kilometers in the 2015 Tour de France route, which should play to Quintana’s advantage.

“We are one of the contenders to win the Tour,” said team manager Eusebio Unzue, who said veteran team leader Alejandro Valverde will target the Vuelta this season.

“We’re all hoping for him [Quintana] to just explode, waiting for his definitive confirmation,” added Unzue.

Quintana described an upbeat mood in the team as they looked to the season ahead.

“We have a great team with great potential, we feel capable of it [winning the Tour de France], so we have no problem talking about that,” said Quintana, who insisted he felt no pressure.

“The route is very good [for me]. There are a couple of tricky stages [a short time-trial and a team time-trial] where we’ll have to be careful, but on the whole I like the look of it,” he said.

The Colombian said his main rivals were two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), 2013 winner Chris Froome (Sky), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), who has been on the podium of all three major tours, and the current champion Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).

He also said he felt Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) was the stronger of the two young French hopes but added Thibaut Pinot (FDJ.fr) could also make a challenge.

“Bardet looks to be the stronger of the two because he’s a more complete rider,” he said.