Quintana to Giro d'Italia instead of Tour de France?

Nairo Quintana has returned to Colombia and is not expected to return to Europe until after the Tour de San Luis. The Movistar rider's early season racing schedule has been released, but much of it depends on whether he will ride the Tour de France or the Giro d'Italia, with team manager Eusebio Unzue leaning toward the latter race.

Quintana, 23, finished second at this year's Tour, but Unzue said that he may send the climber to the Giro in 2014. "I think the Giro d'Italia is a necessary step in the career of a rider,” he has told Diario de Navarra. That would also allow Alejandro Valverde to concentrate on the Tour, with Igor Anton as a second possibility.

Quintana has said that he would like to ride the Giro, and in fact would have preferred to ride it this year. “The Giro has always attracted me and I’ve always preferred it to the Tour because there are more mountains, which makes the race more suited to me.”

The Colombian has gone to his homeland after the team's training camp, and will most likely not return to the team presentation next month. He will open his 2014 campaign in South America at the Tour of San Luis (January 20-26). The next major event on his schedule is the birth of his daughter, expected for late January or early February.

After that happy arrival, Quintana will finally fly to Europe. His planned races include the Mallorca Challenge (February 9-12), Paris-Nice (March 9-16) and the Volta a Catalunya (March 24-30). He rode the latter two races last year as well, finishing 15th overall in Paris-Nice and fourth in Catalunya.

From there, his schedule will depend on which of the two grand tours he will ride. His options include the Tour of Basque Country (April 7-12) or the Tour de Romandie (April 29-May 4).

Quintana won the overall title at the Basque Country in 2013. He then went on to ride Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege before taking a two-month break before the Tour.

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