‘Seeing Egan in yellow really is a source of pride’
Nairo Quintana has confirmed that he will line out at the Vuelta a España, which gets underway in Torrevieja on August 24. The Colombian will look to sign off on his time at Movistar on a high note after a largely disappointing Tour de France.
Although Quintana claimed a fine solo victory win over the Col du Galibier to Valloire on stage 18, he made little impression in the battle for final victory, eventually placing 8th overall in Paris, 5:30 behind the Tour champion, his fellow countryman Egan Bernal (Ineos).
“We’ll continue with the Vuelta a España,” Quintana told ESPN on Sunday. “I’ll rest for a little bit in Colombia, then I’ll come back here.”
Quintana beat Chris Froome to win the Vuelta in 2016, while he placed 8th overall in Madrid last season. He is set to be part of a strong Movistar team in Spain, with world champion Alejandro Valverde and Giro d’Italia winner Richard Carapaz also set to line out for Eusebio Unzue’s squad.
Movistar boasted a similarly star-studded line-up at the Tour, however, but failed to add up to the sum of their parts, despite claiming a sixth victory in the team classification. Quintana was among three of their riders to place in the top ten overall, together with Mikel Landa (6th) and Valverde (10th).
“You always hope for more,” Quintana said of his own Tour. “We set out with an objective and it wasn’t achieved, but we’ll keep trying.”
Movistar manager Eusebio Unzue praised Mikel Landa’s Tour, saying that he would have finished higher than 6th were it not for his crash on stage 10, but he noted that Quintana had lacked the spark that carried him to podium finishes in 2013, 2015 and 2016. “It’s true that he missed that ‘punch,’ that spark that used to make him a killer in the mountains,” Unzue told the EFE news agency.
Quintana is set to leave Movistar at the end of this season, with French Pro Continental squad Arkea-Samsic widely reported to be his likely destination in 2020.
On Sunday in Paris, Quintana was on hand as his fellow countryman Bernal became the first ever Colombian to win the Tour. For most of his career, Quintana had been viewed as the man most likely to achieve that feat, and he had words of praise for the 22-year-old.
“On behalf of Colombians and Latin Americans we’re very happy because it’s not easy for a Colombian or Latin American to win here [in Europe]. Seeing Egan in yellow really is a source of pride,” Quintana told ESPN.
“We said that he was going to be one of the greatest and today with his team, he has done it.
Still only 29 years of age, Quintana has not given up on his own ambition of winning the Tour, even if the greatest prize of all has seemed to inch further away from him since he pushed Froome in 2013 and 2015.
“We’ll keep working,” Quintana said. “I don’t know if one it will happen, but what I do know is that I have to keep fighting for the dream. It is already a dream come true for a country and a region, so I’m still following my personal dream.”