Road

Quintana confirms Tour-Rio ambitions for 2016

Nairo Quintana says the Olympic course in Rio de Janeiro suits him well.

Nairo Quintana already has the Tour de France on his radar, but for 2016 he’s adding a twist, and will also target the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

With a climber-friendly route on tap in Brazil, the Movistar rider joins a growing horde of GC riders who are also aiming for Olympic gold as part of their plans next season. Chris Froome and Alberto Contador have also confirmed Rio as part of their 2016 ambitions.

For Quintana, however, winning the Tour remains the top goal next season.

“We have to take another step ahead,” Quintana said in Colombia. “And that means trying to win the Tour. At least we can start to dream, and we know that the Tour can be won, with two times second, and a victory at the Giro d’Italia.”

Quintana’s latest comments came during a presentation this week in Bogotá, where he sealed a deal with Visa as one of 30 Olympic-bound athletes the credit card company is sponsoring going into the 2016 Rio Games.

“The [Olympic] course favors me because there is a lot of climbing,” Quintana said. “My big goals next year are the Tour and the Olympics. It’s a promise to myself and to my country.”

In addition to the Tour and Olympics, the Colombian climber also confirmed he will race the Vuelta a España next year. With such a heavy mid- to late-season schedule, Quintana said he will likely ease into 2016 a little easier than normal.

“The preparation on the first part of the season will be based around the Tour, having fewer days in order to arrive with fresh reserves for the Tour, and later think about Rio,” he said. “The program still isn’t decided, but the idea is to be flexible in order to hold the rhythm for the Tour, Rio, and then make a good Vuelta.”

Quintana also hinted that Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde will race the Giro d’Italia for the first time in the Spaniard’s career, a decision that would put the two captains on different trajectories during 2016 that will overlap only in the Tour.

“Alejandro will race the Giro, and later accompany me in the Tour,” Quintana said. “I am always going to be the leader of the Tour, and [Valverde’s] compromise next year will be even more to try to help me win the Tour.”