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Ambitious in 2016, Quintana confirms Tour-Rio-Vuelta plans

Nairo Quintana has a busy 2016 season ahead, and it all starts in South America at Tour de San Luis.

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Nairo Quintana (Movistar) reconfirmed his ambitious 2016 calendar that includes the Tour de France, the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games and the Vuelta a España.

And it all starts at the Tour de San Luis (January 18-24). This will be the third year in a row the Colombian will debut his racing season at the Argentine race. He won in 2014 and was third last year.

Quintana admits he won’t be in top shape in Argentina, especially with his major goals all stacked up in the second half of the season, but he said he will race to win. “We will try to ride at the front of the peloton,” Quintana said in a race press release Wednesday. “We have a strong team, and we will try to fight for the overall victory once again, as we always try to do. The weather is perfect to get ready for the season.”

After twice finishing second in the Tour de France, Quintana also reconfirmed that the yellow jersey will be the main priority for the 2016 season. The Olympics and the Vuelta — he is one of the few top stars committed so far to the Spanish grand tour — are also on his radar screen.

“I target the Tour de France, I will try to be in good shape to fight for the overall victory,” he said. “The Olympic Games and Vuelta are secondary objectives, but they are also of importance.”

Whether Quintana could carry top shape across the Tour and Vuelta, with the Olympics thrown in as well, remains to be seen. No one’s won the Tour and Vuelta in that order since the Spanish tour was moved from April to late summer in 1995.

After San Luis, Quintana will return to Europe in March to race the Volta a Catalunya, the Vuelta al País Vasco (which he won in 2013), and the Tour de Romandie, with a possible start in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Unlike last year, when he raced in a few northern classics to familiarize himself with the pavé, there are no incursions this season into Belgium. Instead, Quintana will focus on improving his time trialing skills.

Other Movistar riders for the Argentine race include Fran Ventoso, Adriano Malori, Dayer Quintana, and Movistar newcomers, Dani Moreno and Carlos Betancur.