A victory at the six-day Tour de Romandie bodes well for Tour de France. Of course, a lot can happen between May and the end of July, but three recent Romandie winners — Cadel Evans in 2011, Bradley Wiggins in 2012, and Chris Froome in 2013 — went on to win the Tour two months later.
Movistar’s Nairo Quintana, who won a Romandie stage and the overall in impressive manner, hopes history repeats itself this summer.
“At least we start with the yellow,” Quintana said of the Romandie victory. “So let’s hope the myth is true, and that the dream of the Tour can come true.”
Now 26, Quintana won Romandie in just his second try (he was eighth last year), and rode with renewed confidence and astuteness against key rivals he will face off against at the Tour de France this summer.
“We know we’re going well, and now we will continue to prepare for the Tour,” he said. “I came here with my training plan, and I can see that it’s working well for me, and I am not paying too much at the others. I know how to arrive in top condition for the Tour.”
Backed by a strong Movistar, Quintana controlled the race from start to finish with determined maturity. With surgical precision, he delivered where he was expected, taking the yellow jersey — and a controversial stage victory after Ilnur Zakarin of Katusha was relegated for an irregular sprint — in the mountaintop finale to Morgins. Even more encouraging for his prospects in July was his strong time trial on the 15-kilometer course Friday. The route included a moderate climb, but he finished on the same time as Froome, and took time on Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), Bauke Mollema (Trek – Segafredo), Geraint Thomas (Sky), and Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale), all names he will be facing down in July.
“We controlled the race pretty well, without problems,” Quintana said. “The time trial went as well as hoped, perhaps even better, and we didn’t have any more complications. The team took care of the rest.”
The highly anticipated showdown with Froome fizzled when the two-time Tour winner punctured just before the penultimate climb in the queen stage Thursday to lose all hope of the GC. He didn’t bother to go into the red to chase back, but saved face with a stage victory Saturday. Froome didn’t seem too worried, and even won the most combative prize Sunday for riding into a breakaway.
“Obviously, my big goal is to be ready for July,” Froome said. “I needed some good racing this week to set that up.”
FDJ’s Thibaut Pinot also confirmed his credentials for July with a surprise time trial victory Friday against the heavily favored Tom Dumoulin of Giant – Alpecin to secure second overall.
Quintana’s 11 stage race victories
2016 Tour de Romandie
2016 Volta Catalunya
2014 Tour de San Luís
2014 Giro d’Italia
2013, 2014 Vuelta a Burgos
2013 Vuelta al País Vasco
2012 Route du Sud
2012 Vuelta Murcia
2010 Tour de l’Avenir