Speaking at the end of a week-long team get-together for Movistar near their Pamplona headquarters, Quintana underlined during the interview with a small group of media that rather than racing both Grand Tours back to back, per se, he thought other factors had played their part in his failure to shine last July.
The 27-year-old Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España winner said he believed poorly structured training plans in the build-up to the Tour, as well as general fatigue from racing four Grand Tours in a little over 12 months, had taken a major toll on his performance last summer, which saw him finish second in the Giro d'Italia but then slump to 12th in the Tour de France.
Quintana explained, too, that he will make the Tour de France the centre of his ambitions for 2018, without racing the Italian Grand Tour, but he is also looking ahead to 2019 and beyond, when doing the Giro and Tour double could once again feature.
"I see it as a challenge," he said, "not for next year, but for the years beyond. I believe I can do it [win both in the same season]."
Quintana also faced a series of questions about himself and future team-mate Mikel Landa, following the Basque's concerns, expressed last week, that he might not be welcomed by Quintana in Movistar. But Quintana insisted that there was no personality or power clash between himself and Movistar's new marquee signing.
"The time we've spent here together has gone very well," Quintana said. "Really, we've never had a problem, and if we didn't have any issues when we were rivals, it's going to be even better now we're team-mates. He's a very outgoing, kind sort of person."
Quintana said he expected any questions regarding their respective roles "will be decided by the racing itself" and blamed unspecified "outside factors" for causing, intentionally, the previous week's tension. "He's not a rival, he's a team-mate and together with Alejandro [Valverde] and the other team-mates we'll work together to do the best we can for Movistar."
Quintana argued that Landa's presence, then, represented an addition to Movistar's strength, not a risk of dilution through having too many leaders in the same squad with the same goals. "Sky have been dictating the pace in the Grand Tours, but with Mikel and Alejandro, we can feel a lot more secure. We'll have more options to take on Sky."
It was true, he said, that the team were set to lose several important middle-ranking riders at the end of 2017 - amongst them, although Quintana did not specify which, Jonathan Castroviejo, Rory Sutherland, the Herrada brothers and Alex Dowsett. However, he pointed out that Movistar remain one of the strongest WorldTour squads.
"They're all good riders, but we've got a lot of riders coming up through the ranks, like Marc [Soler] and Ruben [Fernandez]. Then we've got some good riders for the Tour who are still with us, guys like Imanol [Erviti], [Daniele] Bennati."
Plus, as Quintana points out, he will be a year more experienced in 2018, "and I now know from this year's Tour, that even when you work well, or rather believe you're working well, sometimes you can make mistakes and it's not ideal. You need different points of view to find the right path."
Asked to be more specific, Quintana explained - talking, rather confusingly, in the first person plural but referring to his own situation - that "as a group, we got our build-up for the Tour wrong, in the way to be there at 100 percent. Plans, training programs….we'll be more calculating in the future."
The other, currently very likely, change to Quintana's plans for the 2018 Tour is the addition of Landa. Asked if he wanted Landa by his side in the Tour, Quintana responded quickly, "Yes. We've talked it through with Eusebio and the most likely situation is that we'll all three [Valverde, Landa and Quintana] be there." The probable presence of Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) in the Tour, he reflected, would make things more interesting, given it would likely make for a more open race.
He was, he recognised, downcast about the 2017 Tour, because he failed to reach his own expectations. On the other hand, he pointed out, there were a series of six wins in 2017, including Tirreno-Adriatico, and a major stage in the Giro d'Italia to savour. "Then I started to get very tired, we made some mistakes in the build-up and the Tour was, more than disappointing, simply sad. But we've learned a lot."
"I'm keen to come back to the Tour, and repeat that level again. Apart from 2012, every year I've been on the podium of at least one Grand Tour, and that gives me a sense of security."
Whilst not looking beyond the Tour de France in 2018, and planning an easier build-up "to get there as fresh as possible," he will not be doing the Giro d'Italia next May.
"But in the years to come, I don't know if in 2019, 2020 or 2021, I'd still look towards doing the Giro and Tour in the same year, because it's something that is in my head and I want to do it [win both] and I think I can do it. It's a challenge, not in the short-term, but we'll find the right moment to do it."
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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