MADRID (AFP) — Colombian climber Nairo Quintana insisted on Thursday that he is in good shape to tackle a Giro d’Italia-Tour de France double this year.
[related title=”More Giro d’Italia news” align=”right” tag=”Giro-dItalia”]
“I feel this year I’ve got a little bit more maturity and resistance in the body,” Quintana said. “That’s why I think it’s the time to do it, when you’re in a good physical condition.”
The last rider to win both the Tour and Giro in the same year was the late Italian Marco Pantani in 1998, and when two-time Tour winner Alberto Contador tried to achieve the feat two years ago, he managed only fifth in France after winning the Giro.
“Everyone has seen how difficult it has become in the last few years, as many tried to go for it and no one succeeded. [Miguel] Indurain and Pantani were two big champions, and cycling was also different,” said Movistar team leader Quintana, who won the Giro in 2014 but has a best finish of second at the Tour in 2013 and 2015.
It will be the fourth time that Quintana goes for a grand tour double — although this is the first time he will ride the Giro and Tour in the same year — and he’s been getting closer each time.
In 2014, he crashed out of the Vuelta a España after winning the Giro.
The following year, he was second at the Tour and then fourth in the Vuelta, and in 2016, he was third at the Tour before winning the Vuelta.
“It was all about the Tour in previous seasons and the Vuelta was only an afterthought; we didn’t base our efforts on saving energy for it. This time, though, we knew we had to aim at both of them [Giro and Tour], and the preparations have changed,” Quintana added.
The Giro begins one week from Friday in Sardinia before finishing on May 28 in Milan.
“We’ve never before tried this wager, but we think we’re on the right track, with a training program adapted to arriving at both in form,” he said.
“Some other riders go for it at the end of their careers — I want to have a try now that I’m still young.”