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Nairo Quintana says he is fighting fit for his season debut following a recent COVID-19 infection.
The Colombian caught the virus last month, but recovered in time to kick-start his 2022 campaign off at the Tour de la Provence on Thursday.
Despite the illness, Quintana is confident that he’s physically ready to start his season at the four-day race. It is his first time at the race since he beat Aleksandr Vlasov to the overall title back in his first European race as an Arkéa-Samsic rider.
“I won the Tour de la Provence in 2020 during my first season in the ranks of the Arkéa-Samsic team,” Quintana said. “I am motivated by the idea of returning to this competition and being able to play a big role in it again.
“My physical condition is good, I started training again after contracting COVID a few weeks ago, and little by little I continued with heavier workloads.”
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This is Quintana’s third season with Arkéa-Samsic after making the surprise switch from Movistar ahead of the 2020 season.
Following the Tour de la Provence, he is due to ride the Tour of the Alpes-Maritimes et du Var, the Faun Ardèche, Paris-Nice and the Volta a Catalunya.
As he did two years ago, Quintana will want to get his season off to a winning start in Provence. This year’s race will start on less favorable terrain for Quintana with a 7.2km prologue followed by a sprint stage.
However, the final two days will send the peloton into the mountains with stage 3 from Arles to Manosque featuring three classified climbs over its 180km.
The final day will be the queen stage with the first category summit finish to Montagne de Lure likely to decide the overall winner of the race.
“I hope to be in good condition for this event which will allow me to return to competition in 2022,” Quintana said. “If the opportunity arises to be able to play a big role in this race, as I said, I will do everything to do it. I do not know the Montagne de Lure very well, but some of my teammates have already spoken to me about it, they have described the characteristics of this climb to me.
“I hope to be in good physical condition for this competition and that I could be in front of the fight with the best and achieve a good general classification.”
Joining Quintana at the four-day race will be his brother Dayer, Miguel Florez, Maxime Bouet, Romain Hardy, Nicolas Edet, and Lukasz Owsian.