Nairo Quintana is looking to round off his impressive 2013 season with a medal at the elite men’s road race at the world championships in Florence on Sunday. The Movistar rider lines up at the head of a strong Colombian team that also includes Carlos Betancur and London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Rigoberto Uran.
“I’m aiming for a medal,” Quintana told Biciciclismo. “If I don’t manage that, then at least I want to put on a good showing.”
While Peter Sagan (Slovakia), Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) and Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) have been touted as the pre-race favourites by many observers, Quintana believes that his Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde is the man to beat in Florence.
“For me, the main rivals are the Spaniards. The first favourite is Alejandro [Valverde], then Purito [Joaquim Rodriguez],” Quintana said. “There’s also [Vincenzo] Nibali for Italy, [Chris] Froome and, depending on how it’s raced, Sagan. We mightn’t see Cancellara so much, but I wouldn’t rule him out either.”
Like Chris Froome, Quintana is aware that the race needs to be made difficult from the outset if he is to triumph ahead of the likes of Sagan. After building for the Worlds at a rainy Tour of Britain, Quintana is not perturbed by the weather forecast for Sunday, and believes it could even help his chances.
“It’s a race for climbers or for classics riders, depending on how fast it is. If it’s very tough, then a climber can win,” Quintana said. “You have to take the weather into consideration too. I think it will rain, and that will eliminate some riders. Fortunately, it hasn’t affected me up to now, and I hope it stays that way.”
Quintana showed some flashes of form on the short, sharp climbs that punctuated last week’s Tour of Britain, and he declared himself pleased with his work-out there, albeit at the end of a long season.
“I needed to know what level I was at,” he said. “The climbs weren’t long, but I had a go. I think I had a good rhythm and good legs, although not like at the Tour. It’s hard to be in form all year long, and I was already good from Catalunya and the Basque Country until the Tour. It’s not easy.”