Nairo Quintana has been withdrawn from Movistar's line-up for next week’s Vuelta a Andalucía in order to spend more time recovering from a crash he suffered in the closing moments of the Colombian National Championships last week.
Last Sunday as the bunch swarmed towards the finish of the road race, the 25-year-old took a tumble 50 metres from the line, suffering a blow to his back and scraping his right elbow. His right shoulder – badly hurt in the Vuelta a España last year when Quintana crashed during the mid-race time trial and again on the next stage, causing him to abandon – was not affected.
"Quintana was initially expected to take part in the Vuelta a Andalucía but continuing pain from his injuries make it wiser to delay his return to racing," a Movistar press release said. His teammate Alejandro Valverde, who has won Andalucía for the last three years and took three stage wins for good measure in 2014 is also not taking part as he is racing in Oman.
Third in the Tour de San Luis last month, Quintana’s absence means his much-anticipated first clash of the season between with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Chris Froome (Sky) will now be put off for nearly a month. The Colombian will instead cross swords with Contador and Froome for the first time this season at Tirreno-Adriatico, where 2014 Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali will also be a key challenger.
Contador and Froome are still both pencilled in to race in the Vuelta a Andalucía, which starts next Wednesday with a flat stage from La Rabida, near the Portuguese border, to Hinojos. Other top stage racing names include last year’s Tour de France runner-up, Jean-Christophe Péraud as well as Dutchman Bauke Mollema, Luxembourg’s Frank Schleck (both Trek Factory) and Belgium’s Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol).