When Dayer Quintana signed with Neri Sottoli – Selle Italia for the 2019 season, it marked the first time since 2014 that he would race for a different team than his more famous older brother Nairo. That’s when the two-time grand tour winner first signed with Movistar.
After Dayer proved that he could also be a GC threat, by winning the Tour de San Luis in 2016, the 27-year-old has struggled to find the same success. His move to a smaller Italian squad has given him the opportunity to test himself as a GC rider and to lead younger riders. Now, he finds himself in the United States for the first time this week, racing the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.
In 2018, before his departure from Movistar, he notched another top-10 finish at Vuelta a San Luis, followed shortly after by a stage win at the inaugural Colombia Oro y Paz, ahead of recent Tour de France winner Egan Bernal and Sebastián Henao. This season he has remained consistent, but he hasn’t had any big wins. His best results include a sixth place on GC at Adriatica Ionica Race, against a WorldTour level field last month. The chase for a victory continues.
“A lot of people misunderstand and believe I [am still] on Movistar because of Nairo, or they see the trajectory of Nairo and expect that I should be the same way,” Dayer said. “Now with my results this season and being on a different team, it is better.”
His Italian team received wild card invitations in previous seasons to the Giro d’Italia and other prominent races like Strade Bianche, but missed out on both in 2019 when invitations were reduced from four to two among Pro Continental teams. Then the team recently secured an American sponsor—Meter Group, a scientific instrument company—which opened the door to them racing in Utah.
“I was very happy to race with this team,” Dayer added. “It’s a smaller team, so I have more freedom but also more responsibility. It has been a big change from racing with Movistar—with Nairo, we did not race the same races. The intention had been to play an important role in the races he was racing, but we were never at the same races. Now that we have been on different teams, I believe I am closer with him.”
News broke during the final week of the Tour de France that Nairo had penned a three-year deal with French Pro Continental team Arkea-Samsic, a squad hoping to make the jump to the WorldTour in 2020. Dayer will be following him, as well as fellow Colombian Winner Anacona, and Team Ineos rider, Diego Rosa of Italy. The signing marks the first time the team has featured Colombians on its roster.
“It’s going to be a very good team next season,” Dayer said about the move. “We’re three Colombians, we get along very well, and train together. Diego [Rosa] is a great rider who always gives everything for his leader.”
Back in Utah, Neri Sottoli earned a stage win Tuesday with Umberto Marengo. The victory was a big result for their sponsor and a show of strength by the team heading into the queen stage Wednesday. The hors categorie 8.6-mile mountain top finish should favor Quintana. After the first two days of racing, Quintana sits 28th, 41 seconds down on GC.
“The Tour of Utah is a beautiful race, I previewed a few of the courses before the race start and it’s spectacular,” said Dayer. “Of course there are a lot of mountains here so that’s better for me. Powder Mountain surprised me how difficult it is. It’s a long climb so we have to see how the legs are.”
This week could be Dayer’s final time to shine and prove he is able to play a leading role in 2020.