ANDORRA (VN) — Hold your horses, says Nairo Quintana, the attacks will come.
On Sunday, everyone was asking why Movistar’s Colombian climber didn’t at least make one run at yellow jersey Chris Froome in the wet and wild Arcalis summit. Sky’s leader even wondered out loud, “We’d like to think he was on his limit.”
Speaking to the media on the Tour’s first rest day, Quintana said it’s important to pick the right moment to attack.
[related title=”More on Nairo Quintana” align=”right” tag=”Nairo-Quintana”]
“There is a lot of mountains in this Tour,” he said. “You don’t want to kill yourself just in one day, knowing that the rivals are very strong. There was a brutal change in temperature, and everyone was going at their limit.”
It’s funny how perception works. Quintana reaches the first rest day in the best position he’s ever been, just 23 seconds behind Froome, yet many have wondered if the two-time runner-up had missed an opportunity in the Pyrénées.
Again, Quintana said the Tour is just getting started, with two time trials and the hardest climbs still ahead.
“You have to take the race day by day, and look for an opportunity to attack,” he said. “On other occasions, I had already lost more time, so there will be moments to take back these 23 seconds, and perhaps take more. Froome is strong, but I also feel very good.”
Movistar is hoping that Quintana’s consistency over three weeks will open the door for an opportunity to topple Froome, who has shown vulnerability in the third week. The fireworks will surely come before the Alps. Froome said Monday he expects the combination of Mont Ventoux and the first time trial — set for Thursday and Friday — to have a major impact on the overall classification.
Quintana and Froome famously clashed on Ventoux in the 2013 Tour, so the anticipation for a rematch is high. Once again, Quintana is urging patience.
“I’d love to win on Ventoux, where some of the mythic riders in cycling have won, but Froome is also strong,” Quintana said. “We have to see how the other rivals are. We don’t want to lose our heads, and use up our strength, and then let others take advantage.
“I am well-prepared,” he insisted. “I am sure we will meet [Froome and Quintana] in a ‘mano a mano’ duel, and the legs will decide.”