Quintana is accompanied by Movistar teammate Gorka Izagirre, with the Spanish team confirming he will spend several days studying the stages in the Pyrenees, before travelling to Koblenz, Germany to attend the Pure Cycling Festival organised by the team’s bike sponsor Canyon.
This year’s Tour de France includes three important mountain stages in the Pyrenees: stage 7 to Lac de Payolle, which includes the Col d’Aspin and testing descent to the finish; stage 8 to Bagneres-de-Luchon which includes the Col du Tourmalet and the Col de Peyresourde; and stage 9 to Andorra and the mountain top finish in Arcalis.
The Pyrenees are still capped by snow but Quintana and Izagirre wrapped up to ride in the cold. They were able to ride over the summit of the Col d’Aspin but the 2115m high Tourmalet is likely to remain closed until late in May.
Quintana has again set the Tour de France as his major goal of the season. He finished second overall behind Chris Froome (Team Sky) in 2015 after gaining time on the Briton on the final mountain stage to l’Alpe d’Huez. He finished 1:12 behind Froome in Paris, with Movistar teammate Alejandro Valverde third overall at a more distant 5:25. Quintana lost 1:04 to Froome on the first stage in the Pyrenees in 2015 and clearly wants to be better prepared and avoid a similar time loss 2016.
Quintana recently won the Volta a Catalunya race that included a stage to Andorra.
“I’ve been training well, but there’s a long way to go for the Tour, so I have to be cautious. But I am ready for the challenges,” he said after his victory.