Quintana confirms season debut at San Juan

Quintana starting season in Argentina before likely starts at Tour of Colombia and Paris-Nice.

With an eye toward the Tour de France, Nairo Quintana (Movistar) will kick-start his 2019 season in the Tour de San Juan (January 27-February 3) in Argentina.

Race officials confirmed Monday the two-time Tour runner-up will open his campaign in Argentina. It will be Quintana’s first start in the race after riding the now-defunct Tour de San Luis in Argentina on three occasions, including overall victory in 2014.

“The stages are ideal for the beginning of the season,” Quintana said. “The first goal is to train, but we’ll see if we can do something along the way.”

Quintana will be joined by South American teammates Richard Carapaz (Ecuador), Winner Anacona and Carlos Betancur (Colombia), and Eduardo Sepulveda (Argentina). Carlos Barbero of Spain is the only rider who doesn’t hail from Latin America for Movistar’s preliminary San Luis roster.

Quintana is also expected to race the Tour of Colombia in February before making his European debut at Paris-Nice. He’s indicated he’ll race the Tour of the Basque Country and perhaps some of the Ardennes classics before a return to the Tour de Suisse in June, where he won a stage and finished third on the podium in 2018.

The ultimate goal is the Tour and a defiant Quintana said his “sueño amarillo” to become South America’s first yellow jersey-winner is alive and well.

“I still think I have a Tour (de France) in my legs,” said Quintana, who is also racing the Vuelta a España. “The big goal for 2019 will be to pull off a big win.”

Other top riders for the San Juan tour include Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Emirates), Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step), Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data).