Nairo Quintana (Movistar) believes that his team’s decision to partner the 2014 Giro d’Italia victor with his teammate Alejandro Valverde for next year’s Tour de France and Vuelta a España is a good move. Instead of splitting their calendars as they did in 2014 - where Quintana rode the Giro and Valverde was sent to the Tour, before they joined up at the Vuelta – Movistar will send their two top stage racers to the same two Grand Tours.
“We are much tougher together for our rivals than we are on our own,” Quintana said during a press conference in Pamplona. “For others it would be a difficult position but for us it is a position that favours us.”
It is not unfamiliar territory for Quintana, who spent his early years at Movistar as a domestique for Valverde. Quintana showed his potential at the 2013 Tour but was given his first chance to lead a team at the Giro earlier this year. With Quintana undoubtedly in the ascendency and Valverde looking like his Grand Tour winning days have passed, we are likely to see a role reversal for the two. The 24-year-old is flying high bit he still looks up to his elder teammate and is thankful for the experience he can gain from him.
"We have always gotten along very well. Since arriving (at the team) we have had a good relationship,” he explained. “The truth is that I am very happy and I am very grateful to Alejandro for the support that he gives me. He has the pride of someone who was my idol when I was little and that will remain. Surely he will have a good Tour.”
Quintana hasn’t been back to the Tour de France since that seminal moment in his career in 2013, where he ended the race on the second step of the podium, and took home a stage win and the mountains classification. He will be hoping for much more when he sits on the start line in Utrecht. There must have been a smile on Quintana’s face when the route was announced as this year’s race suits his climbing skills down to the ground. He admits that the climbing-centric route caught his eye.
“It is a Tour with a lot of mountains, I like it and it drew my attention,” he said. “Save for the first week with the team, the wind and the rest, I think that the rest of the Tour will be less difficult.
“Alejandro will not do badly either and we will try to take advantage of that.”