Unzue: Three Grand Tours in a season is not possible for Quintana yet

Nairo Quintana on the stage 10 podium at the Vuelta

Nairo Quintana on the stage 10 podium at the Vuelta

Movistar team manager, Eusebio Unzue has said that Vuelta a Espana leader Nairo Quintana's speculation that he may one day do all three Grand Tours in the same year is not practical, at least in the short term.

During his rest day press conference, the Colombian said that the idea of doing Giro, Tour and Vuelta in the same year, as his team-mate Alejandro Valverde is in the process of doing this season, had caught his attention. While not totally pouring cold water on the idea, Unzue has argued that Quintana would have to wait for some time before really considering it as an option.

"I don't see it as being possible at the moment," Unzue cautiously told Cyclingnews. "Bear in mind that Nairo is 26, which is a still a little young to be fully mature for Grand Tours."

Unzue argued that team-mate Alejandro Valverde's series of Grand Tour results are “more a demonstration of what an exceptional rider he is than anything else."

Valverde finished third in the Giro d'Italia, sixth in the Tour de France and is currently in second place overall at the Vuelta a Espana after the first rest day.

"If we look at Alejandro, either he's going to convince us that he's a one-of-a-kind as a rider, or he'll show us that if you handle the calendar carefully, racing all three Grand Tours is possible."

While Adam Hansen (Lotto-Soudal) has shown beyond any doubt that three Grand Tours in succession and even in successive years is viable, Unzue says that "What I don't think is possible for most riders is fighting for the GC on all three Grand Tours. In that sense, I think Alejandro is, at this point in time, unique."

As Unzue pointed out, Valverde - should he complete the Vuelta - would have raced five Grand Tours in 14 months. "At the very least, he's going to leave us all by the time the race finishes with a very interesting reference point for the future." Whether Quintana finally does follow in Valverde's tracks and tries for all three in a single season remains, though, very much to be seen to be seen.

As for the Vuelta, Unzue argues that it is not up to Movistar to control the race alone while Quintana's advantage over Chris Froome (Team Sky) is only 58 seconds. "Prior to Nairo having a margin of two and a half minutes [on Froome]," Unzue told AS, "we consider Froome to be the provisional leader of the Vuelta.

"The race is coming down to a duel between the two. We will have to take advantage of every day we can to increase Nairo's margin on Froome."

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Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.