PEYRAGUDES, France (VN) — Nairo Quintana is a fighter and a dreamer, but the Giro-Tour double is a mountain too far.
After losing two more minutes Thursday and dropping to more than four minutes behind the top GC favorites, Quintana admitted that his ambitious attempt at the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France double was an overreach.
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“This is the first time we’ve tried this ‘doblete,’ and it didn’t turn out as well as we had hoped,” Quintana said. “Sometimes you win the bet, and sometimes you lose, and this time we didn’t win. Another year we’ll do it better. We’ll prepare for the Tour like on other occasions, and we will arrive in better condition.”
With that statement, Quintana admitted that his audacious decision to try to win the Giro before taking on the Tour was the wrong bet. And he also acknowledged that his “sueño amarillo” — yellow jersey dream — will have to wait another year.
Quintana started Thursday’s race just over one minute off the podium. He still harbored some outside hopes of saving the Tour with a run for the podium.
In another brutal mountain stage, Quintana lost contact on the middle flanks of the Peyresourde, and those hopes quickly melted. At first, he thought he was going to blow up completely, but he kept chugging along, and finished 11th at 2:04.
Now eighth, at 4:01 back, Quintana must reconsider this Tour. For the first time since he burst on the scene in 2013, Quintana won’t be racing for the Tour’s final podium.
Does that mean he will slip into stage-hunting mode? With the way his legs are looking now, even that seems unlikely. Quintana admitted as much.
“Until I can regain some strength, we cannot plan anything,” Quintana said. “The truth is right now I am not in condition [to win a stage], but the Tour is long and you never know.”
What a change in tone for the always-confident Quintana. He finished on the podium three times in three Tour starts. Despite ending the Giro second to Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), he still sounded optimistic in Düsseldorf.
Two weeks later, Quintana threw in the towel. The Giro-Tour double resists yet another challenger.
The double is proving to be one of cycling’s most durable hurdles.
Only seven riders have done it, with Marco Pantani the last in 1998. Alberto Contador faltered when he tried in 2015, winning the Giro, but later running out of gas at the Tour to finish fifth. Chris Froome (Sky) also backed away from the temptation of trying the double this year.
So with Quintana struggling at the Tour, it likely will be years before another major GC rider dares attempt it.
What’s next for Quintana?
“When I was dropped, I thought I was going to lose a lot of time,” he said. “In the end, I held on as best I could, and it wasn’t so bad at the finish.”
Not an even a miracle will see Quintana back into the podium hunt.
Why? Because his rivals fear him too much. No one will give Quintana much room to move for fear he could ride back into the race. If he’s going to win a stage, it will have to be an attack out of the GC group. And so far, Quintana has been unable to follow the top riders deep into the mountains.
Movistar’s official website perhaps summed it up best, using the headline: “Bitter taste for Quintana”