EMBRUN, France — Nairo Quintana (Movistar) believes fans can expect a spectacle in the Alps once the Tour de France resumes following Tuesday’s rest day.
From Wednesday, there will be four stages in the Alps with 18 categorized climbs to scale as the likes of Quintana, Tejay Van Garderen (BMC), Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), and Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) try to hunt down race leader Chris Froome (Sky).
“The mountains are coming, and for sure what comes next will be spectacular,” said 25-year-old Colombian Quintana. “They’re beautiful stages that are coming, and we hope to gain back the time we’ve lost.
“I don’t know if we’ll overtake Froome, but we’ll try.
“Even though it would be satisfying to be on the podium in Paris, the main aim we’re working for is the yellow jersey.”
Quintana has often come on strong in the final week of a grand tour, and speaking at his Movistar team’s hotel in Embrun, near Gap, on Tuesday, he said he has trained specifically for that eventuality.
“I always prepare to be regular across the three weeks,” he said. “I’m calm, I know I have a good team, and they’re going to help me to overcome all the problems that could arise in the race.”
Quintana won the Giro d’Italia last year and was second in the Tour two years ago, but he said a repeat of that result wouldn’t be a disaster.
“It wouldn’t be a failure to come second. I’ve come back to the Tour — last year people said I didn’t come because I was afraid — but I’ve shown that’s not the case.
“The other rivals are behind me except for one, but we’re working hard to overhaul him. And if not, I still have a lot of Tours left in me,” he added.
Quintana’s teammate Valverde is fourth overall and can play a role in distracting Froome to help his team leader. He believes Quintana has what it takes to come out on top.
“He’s a very young rider with potential, and he’s already done good things in cycling,” said the 35-year-old veteran. “He’ll continue to do so and I think he can turn the Tour on its head.”