We take a look at why Nairo Quintana has made it in as number three in the 100 Best Road Riders of 2016
3. Nairo Quintana
Age 26, Colombia, Movistar
2015 wins: 7
It’s strange to think that Nairo Quintana won just his second Grand Tour in 2016, given the fact that he’s perennially contending for any three week race he enters. It’s also strange to think that the Colombian is still just 26-years-old; he’s been so successful over the past four years that it feels like he’s been around forever.
On paper, Quintana’s 2016 season was outstanding from start to finish, but had he finished his season after the Tour de France it would have gone down as a disappointing year.
Wins at the Tour de Romandie and the Volta a Catalunya started off the year, but so far off the pace at the Tour de France was he that it looked like his season may peter out with a whimper.
The record book shows that the Movistar man finished third overall, but it was a very defensive third place – not like Quintana at all.
Hyped up as the best climber in the peloton, thanks to his upbringing at altitude in Colombia, Quintana had nothing in the tank to challenge Chris Froome, reluctantly sitting in the Brit’s wheel for much of the three weeks instead and finishing 4-21 down by the time the race reached Paris.
Thankfully Quintana got the chance to make amends for his lacklustre performance just a month later at the Vuelta a España. The difference between Quintana at the Tour and the Vuelta was like night and day. When he attacked he could ride away from anyone and he was back to his usual effervescent self on the bike.
A dominant win on the summit finish of stage 10 sowed the seed for victory, with another formidable performance on stage 15 effectively ending Froome’s bid for successive Grand Tour wins.
The battle between Quintana and Froome in Spain was the one that many fans were hoping for in France a month previously, but as they say – it was better late than never.
Will he target the Tour de France once more in 2017, or maybe attempt a Giro d’Italia/Vuelta a España double?