Valverde to miss Tour de Suisse after illness

Quintana and Landa lead Movistar as Spaniard opts for La Route d'Occitanie

Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa will lead the Movistar team at the Tour de Suisse but Alejandro Valverde will not line-up alongside his fellow team leaders after a cold hampered a key moment of his training at altitude.

Valverde has revealed he will miss the Tour de Suisse and instead ride the much easier and much shorter La Route d'Occitanie – formerly known as the Route du Sud - between June 14-17. He neither confirms or denies that he will ride the Tour de France.

"After several days of struggling with a bit of a cold, we've decided with the team to return to racing at the Route d'Occitanie. We will continue to work and face an exciting second part of the season," Valverde wrote on social media.

Quintana, Landa and Valverde had been expected to ride together as Movistar's Grand Tour dream team but they will now ride different race programmes in the countdown to the start of the Tour de France on July 7.

Quintana and Landa will test their form for the Tour de France against Richie Porte (BMC Racing), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo). Also in the Movistar line-up for the Tour de Suisse are Andrey Amador, Daniele Bennati, Víctor de la Parte, Nelson Oliveira and José Joaquín Rojas. At least five of these riders are expected to be part of the core of the Movistar team for the Tour de France.

Quintana has not raced since the Itzulia Basque Country – the Vuelta a Pais Vasco, in early April, spending a chunk of time training at altitude at home in Colombia. He recently returned to Europe in time for the Tour de Suisse. The nine-day Swiss WorldTour race starts with an 18km team time trial on Saturday.

Quintana won the 2014 Giro d'Italia and the 2016 Vuelta a España. He has twice finished second overall at the Tour de France behind Chris Froome but struggled last season. While Froome is targeting the Giro d'Italia-Tour de France double while fighting his salbutamol case, Quintana has been focused solely on the Tour de France.

"I feel in good condition," Quintana told media in Colombia before travelling to Europe.

"How to beat Froome? I'm going into the race with fewer competition days and much quieter days. Compared to last year, I've spent a lot of time at home resting and training at altitude. That's the plan to take on Froome because we have changed the roster with a great team and I hope it is possible come July."

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