Trainer: Quintana Giro/Tour double ‘not so easy’

Contador's attempt this season is proof that winning in Italy and France in the same season is a tall challenge, says Mikel Zabala.

MILAN (VN) — Nairo Quintana’s idea of trying for a grand tour double, specifically the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France, is not a good one, says one team Movistar coach.

Quintana has twice finished second in the Tour behind Sky’s Chris Froome. In 2014, he became the first Colombian to win the Giro. Next year, his aim is the Tour and the Rio de Janeiro Olympics road race, but beyond that, he is considering aiming at a double grand tour victory.

“We don’t know if it’s possible or not yet,” Mikel Zabala told VeloNews. “Physically you can’t be in the same fitness in both events, you could see that with Alberto Contador this year. There are so many good riders now, it’s not so easy to fight in both races.”

The 25-year-old came the closest yet to winning the Tour this July. After losing time in a stage 2 crash, he slowly clawed back to Froome in the mountains. He took 1:26 back on the final day of climbing, but it was not enough and he finished 1:12 behind Froome in Paris.

In an interview with Colombia’s El Espectador, Quintana said the Tour remains the No. 1 goal for 2016, and the Olympics after that. A double grand tour victory could be the aim in 2017.

“Not at all,” Quintana responded when asked if his challenge of winning two grand tours was crazy. “I know it’s not easy, but you can. It is difficult and few did, but it’s a challenge that I have for the future and I’m going to try.

“Why not dream of winning two major tours? If I lose it’s news and they will say, ‘Nairo Quintana failed to win the two tours,’ but it’ll be something to talk about. At least I’ll try, there’s no doubt about it.”

It is unclear, but it appears Quintana referred to the Giro and Tour. Only seven cyclists have ever won the Italian and French grand tours in the same year: Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Stephen Roche, Miguel Indurain, and Marco Pantani.

Italian Pantani was the last to do so in 1998. This year, Spaniard Alberto Contador tried. He won the Giro and after placing fifth in the Tour, he explained, “My body didn’t have time to recover.”

“It’s not just one rider, you can see with most that if you don’t train and rest, especially rest properly, their peak in form and fitness is not so good,” Zabala continued.

“The balance between training and resting is so important, is not just important for the double but also to be in form in one grand tour.

“You’ll get strong people in the Giro, like Mikel Landa. If Landa just focuses on the Giro, it’s going to be difficult to beat him. You can try to do both, for sure, but it doesn’t come free. You use the strength you need for the Tour. If you don’t identify the main goals of the season you can do a double, a double mistake!”

Quintana is meeting this week with sport directors and Zabala in Navarra, Spain, at a Movistar team camp. They will review 2015 and plan for 2016.

“If your goal is the Tour de France, you still have the Vuelta a España to fall back on. But if you have a couple of peaks in form, then it’s not as good as it is when you just have one,” Zabala said. “We prefer to have one good peak of fitness instead of two. The second one is in the first one, you have been fighting hard then the second one is not going to be as good. Not just physical, but mentally. You get tired and you suffer a lot. In the end, you are not as good.”