Nairo Quintana, the breakout rider for Movistar last year who finished second in the Tour de France and who won both the white and polka-dot jerseys, will skip the Tour in favor of the Giro d’Italia this season. His teammate Alejandro Valverde will lead Movistar’s Tour squad.
Both riders will participate in the Vuelta a Espana.
Quintana’s Tour de France performance last year was the culmination of a strong season that included wins at Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) and Vuelta a Burgos.
The 23-year-old Colombian, who began his season last week by winning the Tour de San Luis, said he was “going crazy” over the waiting game of whether or not he would ride in the Giro or the Tour.
“I am waiting to see what the decision is on the Giro or the Tour,” Quintana said last week. “As soon as I know I will let you all know. It’s the sponsors’ decision. Some of them want me to go one place, some want me to go to another. I’m in between, and I’m going crazy.”
A press release sent to the media on Tuesday said Quintana will spend February at home — his first child is expected to be born soon. After that, he will begin his Giro prep with a series of races in Europe: Vuelta a Murcia and the Clásica de Almería (Spain); Roma Maxima and Tirreno-Adriático (Italy); and the Volta a Catalunya and the Vuelta a Asturias (Spain).
The Giro starts May 9 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. After three stages, the race travels to Italy and picks up with stage 4 on May 13. The final stage rolls into Trieste on June 1.
“Personally, 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,” Movistar general manager Eusebio Unzué said in a release. “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.”
Valverde, on the other hand, will make his season debut next week at the Tour of Dubai. He will then ride in several races, including many of the spring classics, before heading to the Ardennes Classics. Either the Criterium du Dauphiné or the Tour de Suisse will serve as his final Tour tuneup.
Valverde finished eighth in the Tour last year despite an ill-timed mechanical problem during stage 13 that cost him valuable time. He was never able to recover the 10 minutes he lost. He was third in the Vuelta, a year after finishing second in the race through Spain.
“Naturally, Alejandro’s presence into the squad also had its influence, having a solid leader for the Tour with him,” Unzué said. “He has full backing from us — he’s earned it. He already proved last year that he was perfectly capable [of] reaching the final podium despite that mechanical.
“The Vuelta? Both have time to recover from their efforts, and it’s a race that suits them both to perfection and which is also a priority for Movistar. I think this race schedule satisfies our sponsors, the race organisers and also offers chances on important races to other riders of our team who deserved to have them.”