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Tour de France

Quintana: ‘We have to be bold’

Movistar and Nairo Quintana knows that aggressive racing could win the Tour, but no one knows how the unusual route will play out.

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DUSSDELDORF, Germany (VN) — A fit and confident Nairo Quintana is ready to throw the script out the window. The Colombian takes his fourth career Tour de France start Saturday.

Confronting a non-traditional course, featuring only three summit finales and shorter time trials, Quintana said he won’t be able to count on riding his opponents off his wheel in the mountains deep into the third week.

“Anything can happen in this Tour,” Quintana told a packed press conference Friday. “We have to be bold, we have to be alert. It will be a Tour with a lot of movement, a lot of tactics.”

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Hot off riding to second in the Giro d’Italia, the two-time Tour runner-up said this year’s atypical course also means that he will have to race in a different way if he hopes to become Colombia’s first Tour winner.

“The more climbs the better for me, obviously,” he said. “This will be a very strategic Tour. It is a very particular route, so we will have devise a winning strategy.”

Movistar boss Eusebio Unzué, who’s been involved in the Tour de France since the 1980s, said this year’s Tour is one of the most unique he’s seen in decades.

With less than 40km of time trials, Quintana will be able to limit his losses against Chris Froome (Sky) and Richie Porte (BMC Racing). But with only three summit finales, Quintana will have less terrain to take it to his rivals.

“It is a Tour without a script,” Unzué said. “This is a very different Tour from the others. In most Tours, everyone knows what’s going to happen in every key moment. In this Tour, we are going to have to improvise. There will be some uncertain moments.”

The biggest question for Movistar coming into the Tour is Quintana’s recovery. After racing to second in the Giro d’Italia as part of his Giro-Tour double attempt, many are wondering just how strong the usually explosive climber will be after 33 days without racing.

“My preparation this season was different, and we always had the idea that the Tour is the most important goal,” Quintana said. “I came out of the Giro feeling pretty good. I’ve recovered from the effort, and I have good sensations. Last year, I was better at the Vuelta after racing the Tour, so let’s hope that is the case again after having raced the Giro.

Quintana is bound and determined to become South America’s first Tour winner. Twice second and third last year, Quintana patiently and stubbornly believes that his day will come.

With Movistar’s full support, including the help of star Alejandro Valverde, Quintana knows who he has to beat.

“There are many favorites in this Tour,” Quintana said. “Froome is my number one rival, and I think he has improved since the Dauphiné. For sure he will be at a high level.”

Quintana keeps dreaming, but he knows this year he will have to be the one taking the chances if he hopes to win.