Nairo Quintana didn’t have the legs to win this Tour de France, but the Movistar rider can live with third place. He knows it could have been much worse.
The Colombian climber came to France intent on dethroning Chris Froome (Sky), but he was a shadow of the rider who put the yellow jersey on the ropes last year on Alpe d’Huez. Quintana nearly abandoned Friday, but incredibly, he ended up third overall. Saturday’s rain-soaked 20 stage all but neutralized the GC fight, and in the end, Quintana secured his third Tour podium in three Tour starts.
“I have to be content,” Quintana said. “I am pretty consistent, I have three podiums in three Tours, and despite the problems I had.”
Quintana never specified what was ailing him throughout this Tour, but he said Friday that his body was not “functioning normally.” The team hinted at possible allergies, with Quintana saying “my legs are not working as they normally do.”
Despite never mounting a serious threat to Team Sky, Movistar did take a lot out of this Tour. Ion Izagirre’s win Saturday was icing on the cake that also includes Quintana’s third-place podium and the team classification.
“The balance is positive,” Quintana said. “We came with a much bigger goal and ambitions, but we have more years ahead of us to keep trying. A podium spot on the Tour is important, because it’s the most important race in cycling, so I am very happy.”
At 26, Quintana vows to continue to work to try to become Latin America’s first Tour winner. Of his three career Tour starts, this year was his flattest effort, yet he still had the class to reach the podium. He promises to keep taking it to Froome.
“[Froome] is a very strong rival,” Quintana said. “I’ve had to fight against him and we’ll keep fighting in the years to come. Sometimes he wins, and sometimes I win, as we’ve seen in different races this year.”
Their rivalry will continue. Quintana will next head to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where he will be part of Colombia’s strong five-man team, and then he’ll race the Vuelta a España. Froome will be a favorite in Rio, and might race the Vuelta as well.