Nairo Quintana has hit back after Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) questioned his whereabouts during the Critérium du Dauphiné having not seen him race since the Tour de Romandie. During the race, the defending Tour de France champion asked, "and where is Quintana?" Those comments hit a raw nerve for the Movistar rider and Quintana, the only rider of the four favourites without a maillot jaune in his wardrobe, expressed his anger with Nibali's comments.
"By training at my home, I killed two birds with one stone. I can not spend a year away from my family, my friends, my world. After two months in Europe I was glad to be back in my familiar surroundings," he explained to Het Nieuwsblad.
Quintana won his first European race of the season at Tirreno-Adriatico before racing Dwars door Vlaanderen and E3 Harelbeke for experience on the cobbles. He was then fourth at Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco and eighth at Tour of Romandie, where Nibali was tenth, before heading back home to Colombia.
The 25-year-old returned to Europe at the Route du Sud - la Depeche du Midi where he finished second behind Alberto Contador in his final race before the Tour.
While Nibali, Chris Froome and Contador have been training together on the Spanish island of Tenerife, Quintana explained he benefits from living at altitude, 2745 metres in Combita, with his wife and young daughter.
"I have quite the advantage that I can train at altitude at my home in Boyacá. I do not need to go on a training camp at Teide in Tenerife, like the others do,” he said, adding that he does not train at home to miss doping controls. "Rest assured, I am also checked there."
Quintana also expressed his disappointment with comments by his rivals and media that he is a "penniless rural backwoods boy-done-good".
"They speak of somewhere like Colombia as if it is a country lost in a jungle, far away from everything and everyone," said Quintana. "Two years ago, they also suggested that I am a child of a poverty-stricken family. My parents are not rich, but not poor."
Quintana was second overall on his Tour de France debut in 2013, winning a stage and the best young rider and mountain classifications.
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