Nairo Quintana may have been back to his grand tour winning best before coronavirus stopped the season, but the Colombian isn’t backing himself for a yellow jersey this summer.
The former Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España champion got his year off to a strong start this winter, taking GC victories and stage wins through the early-season French races. Despite being newly buoyant and full of ambition having transferred from Movistar to his French Arkéa-Samsic team, the 30-year-old is playing down his chance for a shot at Tour de France glory this year.
“I don’t feel like a favorite,” Quintana told France24. “I think there are riders much more the favorite than me and stronger teams. We will be well, in good condition and we will fight for the general classification.”
With Quintana set to go up against the strength-in-depth of Team Ineos and Jumbo-Visma with his relatively underpowered French ProTour team, that elusive yellow jersey may have to wait another year. Quintana referred to the rise of young talents as stumbling blocks in his 2020 Tour ambitions, with the likes of Tadej Pogačar, 21, and Egan Bernal, 23, also set to be lining up in France.
“There are young people who arrive on the circuit and who are very strong, but so are we,” Quintana said. “We will be well-prepared and we have experience.”
Quintana suffered a setback in his preparations for his planned return to competition at Vuelta a Burgos on July 28 after colliding with a car while training in Motavita, Colombia, earlier this month. It has since been confirmed that “no fracture has been diagnosed” in his injured leg, though a “polytrauma to the right knee” will require him to rest for two weeks.
Quintana is among dozens of South Americans set to fly to Madrid from Bogota this week. Spain opened its borders to athletes and essential workers last week despite new strict travel restrictions on passage into the EU in response to rising coronavirus cases.