One of Nairo Quintana’s key pieces of his rear-guard will be ready to race to win at the Tour de France.
Jonathan Castroviejo suffered a horrible crash in February, but he has since bounced back and finished the recent Tour de Suisse on a high note. He’ll defend his Spanish national time trial title this weekend before heading back to France, where he hopes to be a key helper for Quintana on the flats and transition stages.
“We’ve been right at the doors of victory on two occasions, each time with the sensation it could have been more, and perhaps we could have even won,” Castroviejo said. “This time we hope it’s the one.”
He’s one of 11 riders on a long list for Movistar’s Tour Nine. The 27-year-old was on the bubble on whether or not he could return from injury in time to make the Tour squad. Last year, Castroviejo played a key role in limiting Quintana’s losses in the stage 2 echelons that split up the GC contenders, with differences that haunted Quintana all the way through the Tour last year.
With Adriano Malori also recovering from a heavy crash at the Tour de San Luís, there will be even more pressure on Castroviejo. Movistar is also likely to bring Imanol Erviti, who shined during this year’s northern classics, and Fran Ventoso to help guide Quintana through the transition stages.
Castroviejo crashed after the final stage at the Volta ao Algarve in February when he collided with a fan while riding back to the Movistar team bus.
The collision left him with a double fracture in his C7 vertebra and a crack in his neck. He was forced to wear back and neck braces until early April, so even making it back into condition to complete the demanding Tour de Suisse is a testament to how far he’s come.
“I really made a lot of sacrifices the past few months to try to get ready,” Castroviejo said. “I would be the first to say if I wasn’t ready for the Tour that I wouldn’t want to go, but I saw that I could handle the pace at the Tour de Suisse. If I manage to go to the Tour, it will be a small payback for what I’ve gone through this season.”
If he races the Tour, he’s also hoping to make the Spanish Olympic squad, where he will be a candidate for medals in the time trial.