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Movistar taps Quintana as sole leader for Tour

After experimenting with a three-pronged approach in 2018, the Spanish team will revert to a singular focus next summer.

MADRID (AFP) — Colombian climber Nairo Quintana will lead Movistar at the 2019 Tour de France, Movistar’s manager Eusebio Unzué revealed Tuesday at a team presentation in Madrid.

During the 2018 Tour, Quintana — who has won both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana — was the team’s co-leader with world champion Alejandro Valverde and Spanish climber Mikel Landa. In 2019, Quintana will spearhead the team’s effort at the French grand tour.

Quintana was runner-up to Chris Froome in the Tour de France in 2013 and 2015. Now at his peak, the 28-year-old remains a true contender for a win in the sport’s greatest race.

“We will continue dreaming [of the Tour de France win], and we will continue to work for it,” said Quintana.

Unzué admitted last season’s tactics had failed and that backing the Colombian was the key to success in 2019.

“We want to concentrate our focus on Nairo on the Tour de France and the Vuelta too,” Unzué said at a presentation of the 2019 lineup in Madrid.

“The key objective for the team this year is to win a grand tour.”

The 38-year-old Valverde, who won the thrilling, mountainous world championships in Innsbruck this year, will race the Giro in May and the Vuelta in September, Unzué revealed.

Landa, recruited from Team Sky, will race the Giro in May and then back up Quintana in the Tour de France.

“We were always in there with a chance last season but somehow the strategy [of three leaders] fell short and we failed to meet our objectives.

“We had wonderful moments though with 27 wins, but had bad luck with Quintana and Landa not quite as good as we’d been hoping for,” Unzué said. “But that will all change this year.”

Movistar, the second most powerful team in professional cycling after Team Sky, renewed a deal to sponsor the Spanish outfit until 2021 just two days ago.