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Nairo Quintana (Movistar) on the opening stage of the Tour de San Luis.
Colombian climber recovers after stomach problems in San Luis
Nairo Quintana has back tracked on his goals of the season, revealing that he may still target the Tour de France if the team's main sponsor Movistar decides it wants to see the Colombian climber take on Chris Froome in July.
Quintana finished second behind Froome in the 2013 Tour de France and seemed stronger in the mountains in the final stages of the race, winning the best climber's polka-dot jersey. His weakness in time trials is a serious handicap for the 2014 Tour de France, sparking reports and speculation that he will focus on the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana in 2013, before targeting the Tour later in his career.
Quintana apparently told the Spanish-language website El Tiempo that he will focus on the Giro, with Alejandro Valverde leading Movistar at the Tour de France. It seems that the team sponsor Movistar will now have the final say on if Quintana will ride the Tour de France.
"I'm not playing tactics. I've got to decide what the sponsor wants to do, because they're the ones who pay and so their interests decide things," Quintana told Gazzetta dello Sport at the Tour de San Luis, where he suffered with a stomach problem on stage one.
"I'd like to ride the Tour because it’s the Tour but the Giro route suits me better. I think Unzue (the Movistar team manager) agrees with me but Movistar will have the last word."
Quintana has reportedly recovered from his stomach problems before stage two but it is difficult to say if he will be a contender in the mountain stages. He is reportedly two kilogrammes over his racing weight and is at the start of what could be a long season packed with expectations for the 23 year-old Colombian.
His early season race programme also includes the Ruta del Sol in southern Spain, the Volta a Catalunya, and the Tour de Romandie.
The quality of life
Quintana grew up in Colombia after surviving a near fatal illness when he was born. He revealed in the interview that he used drive a taxi at night with his older brother to earn money but refutes the idea that his family was poor.
"Sometimes people want to show that we didn't have the money to eat and that irritates me quite a bit. My infancy was hard and I had to work –I worked with my brother driving a taxi at night, so that we wouldn't get caught by the police – but I enjoyed growing up. We didn’t have the money in our family for luxuries but we lived well."
Quintana revealed that he likes to repair old cars and will never cut his ties with Colombia or move from his current European base near Pamplona in Spain for Monte Carlo.
"It (Colombia) is the most beautiful and the best place in the world," he concluded.