A frequent finisher amongst the world's best riders in 2013, topped by overall victory at the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco may have shot second-year professional Nairo Quintana into the spotlight but the young Colombian is not letting his stellar run of results get the better of him ahead of the 100th edition of the Tour de France.
Quintana will line up for his debut Tour this weekend on the island of Corsica and despite the encouragement from his family and followers back home, who believe he can win, the 23-year-old and Movistar team management insist that he is there to learn from the experience of riders like team leader Alejandro Valverde.
Expecting the results to flow at the year's biggest race is a big ask for the rider who started and finished his first grand tour at the Vuelta a España last year, where he finished a respectable 36th overall while riding in support of Valverde who claimed the second step on the podium.
"My goal is to one day play the role of leader at the Tour de France, but I have to first mature and learn under the guidance of Eusebio [Unzué] and I'll try to do that this year. I know I need more maturity to one day compete for the Tour podium," said Quintana.
Quintana's calm approach to his development is a sentiment that has been passed down through the ranks at the Movistar squad, with team manager Unzué unwilling to place the burden of leadership onto his rider.
"We have to be cautious about Nairo. I think he created such big expectations due to his impressive results, but I don't think he's prepared for us to put on his shoulders such a massive responsibility like fighting for the Tour overall," said Unzué.
There may be little pressure in terms of leadership but that doesn't mean Quintana will race throughout the three weeks without a couple of quite possibly attainable goals. One of those could be the young rider classification but like all loyal teammates, his own ambitions will not be put ahead of the team's greater objectives.
"The goal is to help Valverde step onto the podium. This will be very difficult but I think he's able to get it and will fight for it. If I have a chance to win a stage I will try not to waste it," adding that the white jersey would, along with a stage win, be "nice goals" but that he would pursue them "only if they pose no hindrance to the team's interests."
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