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Nairo Quintana: I still think I have a Tour in the legs

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Nairo Quintana (Movistar) went on the attack

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) went on the attack
(Image credit: Getty Images)
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Nairo Quintana waves during the presentation of Spain's Movistar Team

Nairo Quintana waves during the presentation of Spain's Movistar Team
(Image credit: Oscar del Poza/AFP/Getty Images)
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Nairo Quintana (Movistar) at the Memorial Marco Pantani.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar) at the Memorial Marco Pantani.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Nairo Quintana (Movistar)

Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Despite failing to ride onto the podium of a Grand Tour in 2018, Movistar leader Nairo Quintana is confident he can still win the Tour de France in the coming years.

The 28-year-old Colombian's run of Grand Tour podiums started in 2013, when he finished second to Chris Froome (Team Sky) at the Tour de France, and continued the following year when he won the Giro d'Italia. Since then he's added a win at the Vuelta a Espana in 2016 and two more podium finishes at the Tour de France in 2015 and 2016.

The past two seasons have fallen short of expectations, however, with second at the 2017 Giro his best result in that time. He was 12th at the 2017 Tour de France, and his Grand Tour efforts in 2018 - the Tour and Vuelta - netted 10th and eighth overall, respectively. Nevertheless, Quintana is confident he can still wear the final yellow jersey in Paris one day. 

"I still think I have a Tour in the legs," he said in an interview released by the organisers of the Vuelta a San Juan, where Quintana will start his season on January 27. "The goal in 2019 will be to pull off a big win."

Quintana has already said he will skip the Giro this year in favour of racing again at the Tour and the Vuelta. He is also returning to Argentina to start his season there for the first time since 2016, when he raced the former Tour de San Luis and helped his brother Dayer to victory. Quintana won the Argentinean race in 2014 and was third in 2015, his only other appearances there.

"They have always treated me very well in Argentina, and I have always been good at the start of the year in Argentina," he said. "That's why we decided to return this year, because the people are fantastic and the stages are ideal for the start of the season."

The seven-stage race includes a rest day after the fourth stage, and the overall will likely be decided on stage 5, when the peloton once again climbs Alto Colorado.

Quintana will be hoping for another good result, but he emphasised that he does not want to put pressure on himself too early in the season.

"My goal in San Juan will be to start the year well, to prepare myself well. Then, as it goes along, we'll see if we can pull off some things," he said, noting the high level of competition expected at the race. "But we have a good team."

Quintana will be joined on the Movistar roster in Argentina by Colombians Winner Anacona and Carlos Betancur, Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz and the Argentine Eduardo Sepúlveda. Spaniard Carlos Barbero will aim for the sprints.