A report in Catalan newspaper El Periódico claims that Nairo Quintana, the runner-up of the 2013 Tour de France and winner of both the King of the Mountains title and the Best Young Rider, may ride the Giro d’Italia in 2014.
According to El Periódico, although it remains unconfirmed by Movistar themselves, the 23-year-old Colombian will tackle the Giro d’Italia, with Alejandro Valverde leading the number one ranked UCI WorldTour squad in the Tour de France. Then both Spaniard and Colombian would take part in La Vuelta, where Valverde finished third overall this autumn.
The decision to send Quintana to take part in the Giro for the first time ever in his career is yet to be made official, but according to El Periódico, Movistar will confirm it during its first formal get-together for 2014, this December. Team sources had unofficially suggested to Cyclingnews earlier this year that Quintana’s presence in the Giro was a possibility, both as a way to ensure that he does not come under too much pressure early in his career and because of the grouping of all the big climbs into a single, final week - something which would suit a young rider. Quintana himself hinted strongly after the Giro presentation that it was a possibility he would race there because, “the only stage which does not suit me is the time trial, which is very long.”
Whilst Quintana’s absence at the Tour would be more than noted, given he was the only rider who seemed able to come anywhere near challenging Chris Froome on the climbs and fans had been looking forward to a duel between the Briton and Colombian in 2014, Movistar team-mate Alejandro Valverde would try to fill the gap. But the 33-year-old’s Tour history is chequered, though, to say the least.
Valverde has had some memorable Tour stage victories, such as in Courchevel in 2005, at Plumelec in 2008 (which netted him the lead) and at Peyragudes in 2012, and a fifth place overall in 2007 as his best GC placing, but also two consecutive abandons, in 2005 and 2006. Last year, after performing well in the Pyrenees where Valverde moved into second overall behind Chris Froome, the Spaniard lost over 13 minutes on the stage 13 echelons and he was almost completely overshadowed by Quintana and double stage winner Rui Costa. Valverde finally finished eighth.