Quintana: I can't wait for the Tour de France to hit the Alps

It has been three days since the Tour de France left the Pyrenees but already Nairo Quintana (Movistar) is itching to get back to the mountains.

Monday’s trip across the Rhône Valley signals the fourth and final transition stage before the race’s Alpine showdown, where the Colombian hopes he can wrestle the yellow jersey from the shoulders of Chris Froome.

“I can’t wait for the Alps to arrive. We are ready and I think they’ll be good for us. We have a strong team and we showed with different attacks, starting to get involved in the breaks. We are all really hungry," he told reporters after stage 15 on Sunday.

Quintana currently sits second on general classification, having shaken Tejay van Garderen and other rivals on the tough finish at Mende on Saturday. However, he is yet to do any damage to Froome, who rode away from him and into yellow on the first summit finish at La Pierre-Saint-Martin and now leads by three minutes and ten seconds. 

After Tuesday’s rest day, there are four high mountain stages with three summit finishes, perfectly suited to the Colombian climber, who won the 2014 Giro d'Italia having come good in the mountainous latter portion of the race.

“Physically and emotionally I’m in good shape, better than in the Giro I won because then I was ill and now I’m fine, there are no excuses," said Quintana.

The 25-year-old insists he and his teammates won’t leave it until the penultimate stage’s summit finish on Alpe d’Huez, but if they’ve not made a breakthrough by then, “on that climb we’ll have to gamble everything.”

Monday’s stage throws up some scope for GC action in the form of the category 2 Col de Manse at the end. Going up it won’t be too much of a challenge but the descent to Gap is set to be fast, technical, and furious. It's where Andy Schleck pretty much lost the 2011 Tour, and where Alberto Contador crashed trying to put time into Froome in 2013. Quintana knows he'll have to be on guard but he's eager just to get through it, by which stage the mountains will have drawn one step nearer. 

“We know the finish and we’ll have to be alert both to Froome and the other rivals that will also try to attack. The important thing will be to be well placed to avoid crashes," he said. 

“Although Monday could in principle be a transition stage, we’ll have to be alert. We hope not to have any complications and to go into the rest day in good stead."

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