Quintana confirmed for Tirreno-Adriatico start

Movistar officials confirm Quintana will race in Italy next month, setting up a clash between the Tour de France favorites

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) is confirmed to return to Europe next month to race Tirreno-Adriatico, setting the stage for the season’s first showdown between the top Tour de France favorites.

Movistar officials confirmed to VeloNews that Quintana will return to Europe “three or four days” before the start of Tirreno-Adriatico (March 11-17).

Quintana was sidelined from the Ruta del Sol last week following a finish-line crash at the Colombian national championship in early February.

The 2014 Giro d’Italia champion was recovering from some bumps and bruises, and was not up for challenging Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and eventual winner Chris Froome (Sky) in the five-day race in southern Spain.

Quintana made his season debut with a third overall at the Tour de San Luís in Argentina in January. Following shoulder surgery last fall stemming from back-to-back crashes at the Vuelta a España, Quintana has been training and recovering from his home base in the Colombian Andes.

Quintana will be targeting the Tour de France this season, and in a similar approach taken by teammate Alejandro Valverde last season, Quintana is penciled in to get a taste of the pavé, with scheduled starts at Dwars door Vlaanderen and E3-Harelbeke, before tackling the Vuelta al País Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) in April.