Tour de France
Nairo Quintana came 31 seconds away from winning...

Quintana ready for Tour, defends racing Giro

The Movistar rider is among the favorites to win the yellow jersey in France, but his ride to the podium won't be easy.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) turns his attention to the Tour de France after the first leg of his historic Giro-Tour double fell just 31 seconds short of glory.

The Colombian superstar spent the past several weeks recovering from the hard effort at the Giro d’Italia in his European base in Monaco. Last month, Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) barnstormed into the history books, and Quintana once again played second fiddle to a “chrono man” in a grand tour.

Quintana, who now boasts six podiums in nine grand tour starts, said there are no regrets at taking on the formidable Giro-Tour challenge.

“I think we did everything right in the Giro,” Quintana said in an interview released by his team. “Of course, it’s a bit sad not seeing everything going as expected, but that only makes me even hungrier for the Tour.”

The three-time Tour de France podium man took a full week off after the Giro, and then mixed training with some visits to preview some of the key climbing stages in the Tour route. Recovering from the Giro’s hard effort while trying to retain his fitness for the Tour will prove key for Quintana’s approach to July. Even he admitted that next month largely remains uncharted territory.

“We won’t know until we’re in the race,” he said. “Everything has been different this season. I’ve done two grand tours before in one year, but the Giro-Tour is quite different than anything I’ve done in the past.”

Quintana, 27, said there are absolutely no regrets about taking on the Giro. After all, he managed to beat everyone, except Dumoulin, who confirmed his GC skills with a superb performance during three weeks.

“My feelings haven’t changed after what happened in the Giro,” he said. “We prepared for the Giro and Tour with the aim of winning both. We were close in the Giro, but now that doesn’t matter. We are now focused on preparing for the Tour in the best possible way.”

For the Tour, Quintana singled out Chris Froome (Sky) as the obvious Tour favorite, and named a long list of challengers — Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), Richie Porte (BMC Racing), Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale), and a few others — but added, “as I said before the Giro and the Dumoulin success, there is always some sort of surprise. A rider you don’t count to get a result, and then end up contesting the GC.”

On this year’s Tour course, one that’s sprinkled with GC challenges from the first week right through the final time trial, Quintana believes the GC contenders will emerge in the Pyrénées. The podium will be decided in the Alps, but he added, “whoever goes into the final [stage 20] TT with the yellow jersey will be almost certain to win.”

Quintana, twice second and once third in three Tour starts, hopes the second half of his Giro-Tour double goes one step better.