MILAN (VN) — Nairo Quintana (Movistar), the best climber and best young rider at this year’s Tour de France, remains undecided about his 2014 grand tour plans. The Colombian, after pushing Chris Froome (Sky) to the limit, wants to return to win the Tour but may detour to the Giro d’Italia.
“The Giro and the Tour are both big goals,” he told Colombia’s RCN Radio on Thursday. “We still have to decide the schedule, and the management has the final say.”
After an explosive performance in the Tour de France, it appeared to be a given that Quintana would return for 2014. The 5-foot-5, 23-year-old attacked his way to a stage win and two jerseys. On the final climb to Mont Semnoz in stage 20, he rode free for the stage win and secured second overall, 5:03 behind Froome.
“I have a lot of respect for him,” Froome said that day. “He’s so young and he achieved so much in this Tour.”
Tour organizer ASO appears to be dangling a carrot to get Quintana to return. It presented a climb-heavy course last month that could pit Quintana directly against Froome and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana).
Nibali won the 2010 Vuelta a Espana and placed third behind Bradley Wiggins and Froome in the 2012 Tour. He sat out of the Tour this year to focus on winning the Giro and the Vuelta — he succeeded in the former and placed second to Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard) in Spain. Those performances will give him confidence in 2014’s race for the yellow jersey.
Quintana may follow Nibali’s example and not rush back to the Tour. Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that he secretly checked out two of the Giro’s climbs. Before returning home to Colombia, he tested the 46.4-kilometer time trial to Barolo and the first big summit finish, the 11.8km climb to Oropa.
According to the newspaper, Quintana will race Tirreno-Adriatico and the Giro del Trentino to familiarize himself with the Giro’s other roads. The report added that he confirmed to team management, “I’m going to the Giro, I want to win it.”
“The Colombians go well in the Giro,” Colombia manager Claudio Corti told VeloNews yesterday. “They are guaranteed to find high-altitude climbs that suit their natural ability.”
Next year’s Giro course contains five climbs over 1,800 meters.
Movistar’s general manager Eusebio Unzué, according to Spain’s Bici Ciclismo website, already made a tentative schedule: Quintana to the Giro and Alejandro Valverde to the Tour. Unzué will confirm it with the team’s other managers at a meeting in next month.
Quintana keeping quiet
If Movistar’s management has made a decision, Quintana is keeping quiet about it. He is training and enjoying the offseason at home far away from cycling’s heartland. He will return on January 17.
He told RCN Radio, “When I return to Spain, we will decide my calendar and what we will do throughout the year.”
After breaking through this year, however, the Tour remains in his sights. “I believe I can win it in about three years,” Quintana added. “I hope that all the stars align, that I’m in a good shape, that the course suits me and that the team supports me to do so.”