LEON, Spain (VN) — Colombian sensation Nairo Quintana (Movistar) returned home this week after a wildly successful spring season capped by his overall victory in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country).
The 23-year-old will remain in Colombia for nearly a month before returning to Europe in June to race the Critérium du Dauphiné ahead of his highly anticipated debut at the Tour de France.
“I stay where I live, at 1,800 meters to prepare for the Tour,” Quintana told VeloNews. “I will stay about one month. I will be with my family, because that’s what I miss most.”
The Colombian roared through the spring, turning heads in every race he started. He put an end to the first part of the season last weekend at Liège-Bastogne-Liège with a discreet 50th in the “la doyenne.”
Quintana admitted he suffered through the Ardennes classics, struck by allergies and what he called stomach problems, but the 5-foot-7 climber said he liked what he saw in his first attempt at the hilly classics.
“I believe they are adapted well to my characteristics,” he said. “Some day I would like to return to challenge for the victory, but now we are supporting Alejandro Valverde.”
Valverde continued racing this week at the Tour de Romandie, while the Movistar protégé headed home for a well-deserved rest.
Reports in the Colombian media said he was welcomed as a returning hero when he arrived at Bogotá airport.
From there, Quintana returned to his family hometown of Cómbita, a small village about 70 miles north of Bogotá.
Quintana said he was looking forward to returning home after many months in Spain, where he is based in Pamplona when not on the road. He explained he comes from a “humble background.”
“I have a very tight family. We are five brothers and I look forward to spending time with them,” he said. “My father worked selling fruits. We helped him when we could.”
Like many of the new generation of Colombian riders, Quintana said he started racing his bike because he needed to rely upon it for transportation. Living deep in the heart of the Andes Mountains doesn’t hurt, either.
“I got my first bike when I was 15. I needed to ride my bike to school, and that’s how it all started,” he said. “It was downhill to get to school, and it was climbing to get back, so that’s how I started my love for the bike. It was 16km each way, so I made a circuit of 32km each day just to go to school, half of that uphill.”
Amador operated on, hopeful for Tour
Movistar’s other top Latin American prospect, Andrey Amador, was successfully operated on this week to repair his broken clavicle suffered in a fall in Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège.
The Costa Rican, who’s fractured his right clavicle for the third year in a row, is still hopeful about a Tour start later this summer.
“The doctors told me there were no complications,” he said in a team press release. “Now I have to rest. I had a recovery period planned after Romandie, but this is forcing me to rest earlier than expected. There’s no hurry to return to the bike, but if things go well, I believe I can get back on the bike in a few days.”
In 2011, Amador became the first Costa Rican to start the Tour. Last year, he won a mountain stage at the Giro d’Italia to Cervinia.