Quintana not at the Tour? aw come on!

by crankpunk. this article originally appeared on The Roar

“I would have liked to raced the Tour again this year, but the team wants me to go to the Giro. The one who pays has the final say.”

Thus spoke Nairo Quintana just a couple of days ago after it was revealed the 24-year-old Colombian would not be racing the Tour de France.


Because Alejandro Valverde has been chosen to lead them in July.


Well, because, as the Movistar team from which the pair hail had no leader for the Giro, for perfectly (I stress perfectly) obvious reasons, the team management has decided to send the guy who came second in last year’s Tour to Italy in May.

All clear? No? Not to me either.

Nairo's elder brother, Jesus. big balls run in the family
Nairo’s elder brother, Jesus. big pink balls run in the family

“Personally,” opined Movistar general manager Eusebio Unzue, “I don’t think taking Nairo to the Tour with his age, plus the pressure of improving last year’s result, is interesting for his future.

“I prefer to keep him growing into the formation period he’s still in and let him know the Giro, because we think it’s an extremely interesting race for him to progress on so many aspects, and where he will enjoy full leadership in a Grand Tour for the first time.”

But after Alejandro busted a tire on Stage 13 in last year’s race and lost a whopping ten minutes-plus on the stage and on the GC, it was the Tour debutant Nairo Quintana upon whom the Movistar leadership duties fell. And the youngster did not buckle.

In fact, he grabbed that bag of responsibility with a steely grip and set about putting in the only real challenge that the eventual winner Chris Froome faced all Tour.

the Giro? polka the other one...
the Giro? polka the other one…

Let me remind you what happened once Alejandro’s assault on the podium went flat and Nairo took to the hills.

On Stage 15 to Ventoux Quintana attacked Froome and dropped the pack, taking the Briton with him, though he was eventually dropped before the line as Froome won.

That took the Colombian to sixth on the GC. Not bad, not bad at all. A debutant of lesser caliber would have been thrilled at that and might look to cement his place, maybe go for a top five.

Not Quintana though.

Stage 18 took the peloton over l’Alpe d’Huez twice and took Quntana from sixth on the GC to third, after he finished fourth on the stage. And then on Stage 20, sensing he was flying and getting better and better in the hills, he attacked and beat Joaquim Rodriguez and Froome for the stage win – his first ever in the Tour, on his debut (this is worth repeating) and into second on the overall, where he ended up in Paris.

Oh yeah, and he won the King of the Mountains competition, and the Best Young Rider competition. It was the best debut since Jan Ulrich in 1996.

He finished 4.20 down on Froome. Valverde finished over 15 minutes behind.

Now, let’s grant Alejandro 10 minutes for that flat tire, and Quintana still emerges as a more natural Tour rider. And let us not forget to take another minute or three off of Valverde in lieu if his wealth of Tour experience.

Conclusion? Quintana is not only the most dangerous threat to Froome’s dominance from within the Movistar team, he is the most dangerous threat within the entire peloton.

Unzue says Quntana has a better chance to win the Giro than to beat Froome, but the Colombian himself said something that makes me, for one, think it is the elder, Spanish rider who has the ear of the team hierarchy and bears more than a sliver of responsibility in the decision.

“It’s a decision that also takes into consideration the interests of the sponsors and Valverde,” said Quintana.

Jealousy on Valverde’s part? At 33 he knows, as a rider who is not 100% suited to Grand Tours (he’s never ridden the Giro, by the way), he has little realistic chance of any higher than fifth place – and that is if everything goes swimmingly.

Quintana, on the other hand – one badly timed mechanical or an off-day for Froome – could win it.

It is a travesty that Quintana is out. He supplied us with the most exciting Tour debut in years and it harked back to the days of young, hungry riders coming along and upsetting the status quo with their verve and raw ability.

Certainly, most young riders do need protecting, but when a guy like Quintana comes along, give him his fill. Let the boy ride!

The 2014 Tour de France will be a less thrilling spectacle without him.

Author: Lee Rodgers

Cycling coach, race organiser, former professional cyclist and the original CrankPunk.

4 thoughts

  1. ok. If nairo starts the tour (without a Giro GC challenge in his legs), his odds would be 5-1 or longer (whereas you can get 20-1 or better on him as things stand now ante post). as it stands he’s more or less even money for the giro. i say it’s THE smart move from movistar. so, perhaps it takes away a little from the Tour spectacle, but their loss is the Giro’s gain….

  2. I agree with you but Quintana will surely start as favourite for the GIro given the parcours suit him and it is massive deal to win it. The Tour has a cobbled stage and more TT miles and Nibali as well, so as he is still young is this not the best year for him to skip le tour and go for the Giro/Vuelta double.

  3. Based on your example Damiano Cunego should have won a pile o’ Grand Tours, but….? It’s one thing for a young guy to go into the Tour pressure-cooker just to learn, while the pressure’s on the Green Bullet, but quite another to deal with all the build-up to Le Beeg Shew at a young age when suddenly YOU are the captain. I think the directors of Movistar know more than everyone on this forum combined X 10. Meanwhile the kid’s only 24. He’ll have his chance in the future

    1. Disgraceful. Quintana deserves his shot at the tour.
      Another wiggo/froome type debacle.
      I know which I would back between Valverde and Quintana!

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