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Quintana working to fight spousal abuse and advocating gender equity in Colombia

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Nairo Quintana and daughter Mariana on the podium at the Tour de France

Nairo Quintana and daughter Mariana on the podium at the Tour de France
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2016 Vuelta winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar)

2016 Vuelta winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
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The classification winners; Fabio Felline, Nairo Quintana and Omar Fraile

The classification winners; Fabio Felline, Nairo Quintana and Omar Fraile
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Nairo Quintana with his child on the podium

Nairo Quintana with his child on the podium
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Nairo Quintana was joined by his mother at the finish of the Giro d'Italia in 2014

Nairo Quintana was joined by his mother at the finish of the Giro d'Italia in 2014
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

When he leaves Europe, Vuelta a España winner Nairo Quintana (Movistar) heads home to a region in Colombia that has some of the worst statistics of spousal abuse of women, and he is hoping to parlay some of his fame into creating change.

According to statistics from the Council for the Equality of Women in Colombia, a woman is killed by her partner there every 2.5 days, and four women are victims of violence every hour.

A vocal supporter of the fight against social inequality in Colombia, Quintana has joined with the Mayor of Tunja, the capital of his home department of Boyacá in an initiative called "Enrédate con la equidad de género" (Get involved with gender equity).

"The campaign aims to make women more valued, we want them to feel more protected (...) and that has made it so that the rates [of violence] are going down more and more," Quintana said to BBC.com.

Quintana says he feels that part of the problem stems from the country's culture of machismo, and he wants to show other men that they can value women as equals and share in the responsibilities of the household.

Part of his inspiration comes from his new daughter, Mariana, and his wife Yeimi Paola Hernández, who might not have the same opportunities that he enjoys simply because of their gender.

"Men are also able to take care of children. It's important to learn how to change diapers," he says, adding he was eager to learn everything about how to care for his daughter.

"When we are going to go out, we realize that we take everything we need so that we aren't staying away from home without milk or without diapers. In fact, taking some medicine in case she gets sick on the road. All that makes you get into the role."

Quintana also does not want to limit what his daughter can do just because of traditional gender norms.

"For example, imagine, some people say: 'A girl with a bicycle? No!' or, 'A female footballer? No!'

"Girls are going to play with girls and on the bike they are going to ride with other women. I hope that my girl makes the decision [to ride], and I am certainly going to support her. I don't know if she is going to be a cyclist but in whatever she does, I will certainly support her."