Dayer Quintana steps out of Nairo’s shadow

Dayer Quintana became a stage race threat by winning the Tour de San Luis

SAN LUIS, Argentina (VN) — Before this year, Colombian rider Dayer Quintana was best known as the younger brother of Tour de France runner-up Nairo Quintana. But the 23-gear-old Dayer’s reputation is in rapid flux.

Dayer is now a stage-race threat, having sealed the overall title at the 2016 Tour de San Luis Sunday after taking control of the race on Saturday’s Comechigones climb.

“It’s a little bit confusing. [Nairo] has always been the one taking the caps and the flowers and all the prizes back home,” Quintana said during Sunday’s post-race press conference. “I don’t know what my parents are going to say!”

Quintana’ win in Argentina should bring him more attention. He beat his brother Nairo, as well as Astana’s Vincenzo Nibali, and Tinkoff’s Rafal Majka. And while the Tour de San Luis is just a 2.1-category race, and falls during the early season, the big riders showed that they were there to compete, not simply train. Nairo Quintana also attacked up Comechigones, and finished third overall. Both Nibali and Majka finished inside the top-15 in the overall.

At the start of his third year with Movistar, Dayer is now showing his true potential. He flashed real talent last year with a stage win at the Tour of Austria, but raced an otherwise quite 2015 after that. Dayer admitted that he did not achieve his racing goals in 2015.  With his 2016 campaign starting with a victory, Dayer believes this season will be different. He said

“I was convinced [that this would be a big year] since last year was a very frustrating year for me,” he said. “This year has gotten off on the right foot. It means a lot because it’s my first triumph in a stage race. And we hope I can keep doing that.”

Still, the younger Quintana isn’t losing perspective, and he knows that he has plenty yet to learn if he wants to catch up to his older brother. Nairo, after all,  had already notched second-place finish at the Tour de France by this stage of his career. Dayer’s goals aren’t as lofty. He predicts he’ll ride primarily as a domestique this year.

“For now, I have to keep on playing a support role,” he said. “The fact is that winning one race doesn’t make you the boss of the team. If I have a chance to a play a big role while supporting my teammates, I’ll take advantage of it.”

Dayer hopes to return to the Giro d’Italia this year in support of Alejandro Valverde after making his first grand tour start there in 2015. His brother won the race in 2014.

Dayer hopes to contend in Grand Tour races in the future. At the moment, however, he’s keeping more modest goals. He has his brother to emulate, and said he will do what he can to match Nairo’s success.

“I think with hard work and dedication I can do big things,” he said.

There are striking physical similarities between the Quintana brothers, namely their short stature and facial features. Like Nairo, Dayer excels at steep, painful climbs. But the younger Quintana said that, when it comes to personality, the two are definitely individuals.

“I think I’m a bit more extroverted, on a personal level,” Dayer said. “On a professional level, I’m a bit more scatterbrained.