Nairo Quintana will hit Europe earlier than he has ever done before, getting his 2017 season campaign underway at the Challenge Mallorca series in the last week of January.
The Movistar rider spends his winters in his native Colombia, and for the past three seasons he has started his campaign in South America at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina. That race has folded, but the Tour de San Juan, similar in style, date and location, has stepped up to 2.1 level occupying. However Quintana has had to look elsewhere because it is understood that the Movistar team is planning its official 2017 team presentation while that race is taking place.
The organisers of Challenge Mallorca, which comprises of three one-day races with riders able to pick and choose which ones they do, confirmed the riders that Movistar have put down for the race, with Alejandro Valverde, a former winner, once again returning as part of the Movistar roster.
Quintana will begin racing in Europe earlier than usual but his goals and race programme for the 2017 season are still a mystery.
Around Christmas it was widely reported that he would ride the Giro d’Italia, with he and team boss Eusebio Unzué having also discussed the viability of a Giro-Tour de France double attempt. A couple of days later, however, Unzué poured water on the flames of excitement – no rider has pulled off the double since Marco Pantani in 1998 – by saying nothing was yet set in stone.
“I don’t know why this news has come out,” Unzué said. “We haven’t completely defined the programmes yet. There is a chance that Nairo will ride the Giro and the Tour, or else the Tour and the Vuelta. For now I don’t think it’s even right to say how much of a chance there is that he’ll do one programme or the other.”
Quintana has suggested that, whichever Grand Tour combination he chooses, the Tour de France remains his number one priority, having finished on the podium three times behind Chris Froome.
Movistar Team for Challenge Mallorca: Alejandro Valverde, Nairo Quintana, Andrey Amador, Daniel Moreno, Jorge Arcas, Alex Dowsett, Danielle Bennati, Adriano Malori, Richard Carapaz, Héctor Carretero, Rubén Fernández, Antonio Pedrero, Nuno Bico.