MONTE ZONCOLAN, Italy (VN) — Movistar is sticking to its guns and will not send Nairo Quintana packing to the Tour de France despite the Colombian’s imminent victory in the Giro d’Italia.
Movistar team boss Eusebio Unzué confirmed to VeloNews that the power of the maglia rosa will not be enough to convince the Spanish team to send Quintana to the Tour, where Alejandro Valverde is set to lead the Spanish team.
“After a Giro so difficult and demanding, what Nairo needs now is to rest,” Unzué told VeloNews in front of the team bus after the stage. “He will not race the Tour this year. The best thing for him was to come to this Giro to race to win as a leader for the first time. He is young, and will have many Tours in his future.”
Quintana, 24, defended up the grueling steeps of Saturday’s climb up the Zoncolan to keep pink, and is poised to become the first Colombian to win the Giro at the end of Sunday’s final stage to Trieste.
Quintana confirmed he will race the Tour next year, and left a pink-jersey defense up in the air.
“It was a difficult decision to take [to skip the Tour], but it was the best decision in the end,” Quintana said. “Next year, I will return to the Tour. I don’t know if it’s possible to race both the Giro and Tour. That’s something that we will discuss with Eusebio.”
Under the insistence of Unzué, Quintana skipped the Tour after riding to a surprise second in 2013, and came to the Giro with the idea of racing as grand-tour team captain for the first time in his young career.
As Quintana indicated, it took him awhile to accept the decision. But after winning the Giro with panache — Quintana revealed that he was less than 100 percent — many wondered if Movistar would unleash the climber on the Tour.
Quintana said it’s better for him to wait until 2015 before returning to the Tour.
“I learned so much from this Giro, from how to be a leader, from being behind and attacking, on how to lead the team for three weeks,” Quintana said. “It will only help me when I return to the Tour.”
Unzué also confirmed that both Valverde and Quintana would also race the Vuelta a España (August 23-September 14) before the world road cycling championships in Ponferrada, Spain.
“Alejandro and Nairo will both lead at the Vuelta, without pressure, but with ambitions of going well,” Unzué said. “We can be very pleased with this Giro victory. It sets him up well for the future, and will allow him to have the experience of winning a grand tour going into the Tour next year.”
Unzué said the team would celebrate with a party in Venice on Sunday evening, and stay in Spain a few weeks before returning to Colombia in June, where he’s sure to receive a hero’s welcome.
Marco Pantani remains the last rider to win the Giro and Tour in the same season, in 1998.