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Nairo Quintana, back in Colombia this month ahead of his gran fondo event, admitted he is no fan of Movistar’s three-pronged attack in the Tour de France.
The two-time Tour runner-up saw his leadership duties diluted in the 2018 Tour when Movistar also sent teammates Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde with protected status. The tactic delivered a stage win with Quintana and a top-10 with Landa, but it fell short of a podium push.
“I don’t like it, but [Movistar manager Eusebio] Unzué is convinced that it’s possible,” Quintana told French TV. “So that’s how it went.”
Movistar remains uncommitted on how it will tackle the 2019 Tour, a climb-heavy course that on paper should favor Quintana. Reigning world champion Valverde has hinted that he will not ride next year’s Tour, meaning that Movistar will likely bring Landa and Quintana as co-captains.
In a previous interview, Quintana also revealed his dissatisfaction with shared leadership, but the arrival of Landa in 2018 meant that the Colombian would no longer be the singular focus at Movistar.
Movistar officials say they will map out the 2019 racing calendar for all its major players later this month at a team training camp in Spain. Landa has also commented that he is expected to race the Tour with captain status and hinted he might take on the Giro as well. Quintana said he’s committed to racing the Tour as the singular focus of his season.
“The mountains in this year’s Tour favor us because of the high altitude,” he said. “That’s where I live and train, so I am accustomed to this altitude. My dreams of winning the Tour are fully intact. I’ve been close before, and it’s been a bit more bitter these past two years, but I still hope to win it.”
A stage victory in the Pyrénées — his first since his breakout 2013 Tour when he was second overall and won the best climber’s as well as best young rider’s jersey — took the edge off what was largely a GC disappointment for Quintana.
“We’ve had more brilliant years before,” Quintana said of 2018. “Even though we worked as hard as ever, things didn’t turn out as we had hoped in the important races. I was pretty good in the Tour de Suisse and other races and we ended up with a pretty decent season, but we’re hoping to be better next year.”
Quintana faces a bit of a career crossroads in 2019. Twice second to Chris Froome and once third at the Tour, he admits that he desperately wants to become South America’s first Tour winner. The rise of Egan Bernal on archrival Sky could complicate matters.
Quintana, 28, confirmed he will finish out his final year of his latest contract with Movistar, where he joined as a pro in 2012, but hinted there could be a change on the horizon.
“We are already looking to the future,” he said. “Now we are only thinking about having a great season with this team [Movistar] that has always treated me well.”
Quintana will debut his season at the Tour de San Juan before racing at the rebranded Tour Colombia 2.1, where he finished second last year to Bernal when the race was called “Oro y Paz.”