With a finish outside the top 10 looking almost certain at this year's Tour de France, Nairo Quintana is trying to remain positive, saying that things will be different next year. Quintana has all but slipped into anonymity during this year's race. Any thoughts of going better in his second Grand Tour of the season were quickly stomped out in the opening mountain stages and the Colombian has been forced to accept that he is far behind his rivals.
With the final mountain stage done and dusted, there are just three more stages to come. There is never a 'just' when it comes to the Tour de France and Quintana will have to remain vigilant over the coming days in order to make the finish, but having got through the mountains the Movistar rider can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. Quintana has been gracious in defeat and remains buoyed by the prospect of coming back and doing it differently next season.
"We know things haven't turned out well for us, but on the other hand, our gamble was quite risky, and we didn't know how things would play out," Quintana said. "These are the results - next year I'm sure things will be different."
After a failed attack on the penultimate mountain stage, Quintana decided to play it safe on the road to the Col d'Izoard keeping very much to the back of the group of favourites throughout. Victory for Quintana would not come with a podium or fanfare, but in making it to Paris on Sunday and stage 18 seemed to be more about getting through than anything else.
Quintana remained longer within the leading group than he has done on many of the mountain stages and minimised his losses to the main GC contenders to less than a minute. He languishes over five minutes outside the top 10, a position he's never been in at the end of a Grand Tour. Quintana, in fact, has never finished outside the top five before and being so resoundingly beaten has been tough for him.
"Without the legs you'd want to have, it's impossible to get the result you were aspiring to reach. We just rode at the front up until we could. Obviously, this is not how I'd like to feel," explained Quintana. "It's difficult to put my physical status into words at the moment. The only thing I know is that we put all strength and courage we had to reach the top. As I said yesterday and during the last week, our goal - once we saw things were like this - was just to get to Paris in one piece, and we're closer now."