Nairo Quintana: The race will decide our Tour de France leadership

Nairo Quintana has told Cyclingnews that the leadership question surrounding Movistar during next month’s Tour de France will be resolved ‘at the race itself’ and not by a predetermined strategy.

Quintana won stage 7 of the Tour de Suisse in impressive fashion after a long-range attack on the road to Arosa. The win moved the Colombian up the general classification and put him within contention for a podium position in the final overall classification. Richie Porte (BMC Racing) still leads the race and is expected to remain in control with Sunday’s final stage a 34-kilometre individual time trial.

While Porte is undoubtedly BMC’s sole GC leader for the Tour, the same cannot be said of Quintana at Movistar. Despite twice finishing second in the race, in 2013 and 2015, and third in 2016, he heads into the race with Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde both in contention for leadership roles. Three potential leaders at the Tour has created a level of uncertainty, but Quintana and Landa have both played down the situation.

“The race itself will decide leadership,” Quintana told Cyclingnews at Suisse.

“We’re going to ride and as things unfold we’ll see. The important thing is to get through the [early] days, and as we get through those days the race will decide who it is.”

The opening week of the Tour de France is littered with potential pitfalls, from cross winds to cobbles, early uphill finishes to the team time trial on stage 3. Having options will be important and at the Tour de Suisse, Landa and Quintana have taken turns to attack the opposition.

“Yes, we have to assess the race situation at all times. According to how the race is unfolding, well that will decide how we race,” Quintana said after one of Landa’s attacks on stage 5 was snuffed out just before the line.

“At the Tour there are hard stages, coming at the end of the opening week. They are days where we’re going to have to be on our toes and at full strength.”

Overall, though, Quintana believes that his form is where it needs to be. The final mountain stages in the last week of the Tour de France are still some weeks off, and there is time between now and those decisive stages for the Colombian to find those extra few percent to ensure he can challenge for the yellow jersey.

“At the moment the form is good,” Quintana told Cyclingnews.

“I’ve finished a good block of work and now I’m here to fine-tune and get back into the rhythm of racing. I’m feeling good right now, but my physical condition is definitely going to improve here, and then it will be about maintaining it.”

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