The Colombian and his Movistar team believe the feat is a realistic undertaking for the two-time grand tour winner.
ADELAIDE, Australia (VN) — It’s confirmed: Nairo Quintana will attempt cycling’s most fabled double and will race both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France this season.
The 2014 Giro winner confirmed his calendar to Colombian media. Movistar sport director José Luis Arrieta told VeloNews overnight the team is committed to the Giro-Tour double attempt.
“His approach to the Giro is still to be finalized, but he will race the Giro and Tour,” Arrieta said. “We believe it will not handicap his chances for the Tour. Last year, he rode the Tour and won the Vuelta a España, so riding two grand tours in a row at a high level is within his capabilities.”
Movistar officials first floated the idea of a Giro-Tour last fall, in part to pay homage to the Giro’s centenary edition in 2017. Movistar manager Eusebio Unzué later backpedaled and hinted the Tour might remain the central focus of Quintana’s season. This week, Quintana confirmed his intentions to Colombian media, and Arrieta also said the double is set as the season’s main challenge.
“Logically his ambition is to win the Tour, and our obligation is to help him, and the Giro can be part of that,” Arrieta said. “Nairo has demonstrated he can race two grand tours at a high level, so racing the Giro is a good option.”
The Giro-Tour double is one of cycling’s most elusive challenges, with only seven riders in cycling history winning both races in one season. The last to do it was Marco Pantani in 1998. Many believe it’s too difficult to achieve in today’s peloton.
That goal is ambitious by any measure, and riders who have tried in recently, including Alberto Contador who won the Giro in 2015 but faltered in the Tour, say the demands are too much during the Giro to arrive in top shape for the Tour.
Arrieta, however, said the team studied the power meter data from Movistar’s co-leader Alejandro Valverde, who raced both the Giro and Tour (and the Vuelta a España as well) during 2016. Valverde won a stage and finished third overall in the Giro last year, and then rode to sixth in the Tour while riding at the service of Quintana. Movistar believes Quintana could do even better than Valverde.
“Taking the information from Alejandro last year, when he did Giro-Tour, we saw he was almost in better condition during the Tour,” Arrieta said. “We have some data that help us to believe that you can do both the Giro and Tour in good condition, that you can be competitive in the Giro, and later be just as strong in the Tour.”
Quintana’s confirmation sets up what’s looking to be a great Giro field for 2017. Other top riders to commit to the Italian grand tour include Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain – Merida), Fabio Aru (Astana), Sky’s Mikel Landa and Geraint Thomas, Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Bauke Mollema (Trek – Segafredo), Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha – Alpecin), Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL – Jumbo), and most likely Esteban Chaves (Orica – Scott).
Arch-rival Chris Froome (Sky) will not be racing the Giro, and will likely repeat his Tour-Vuelta approach to 2017 as the Sky captain puts winning a fourth Tour crown ahead of an attempt at the Giro. Quintana, however, gained confidence after beating Froome in last year’s Vuelta.
Arrieta said Quintana will travel to Europe next week to outline his approach toward the Giro, with likely early season starts at the Mallorca Challenge and the Volta a Valenciana.