Nairo Quintana (Movistar) could still win the Giro d'Italia this May, but team managers say that the energy he uses doing so will cost him when he tries to win his first Tour de France against Team Sky's Chris Froome.
The Colombian winner of the 2014 Giro, sits second overall at 2-41 minutes behind leader Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb). He said at the start of the year that he is aiming to win the Giro and Tour double.
"If he is to win the Giro, he's going to have to make a huge impression in the mountains," Trek-Segafredo general manager Luca Guercilena told Cycling Weekly.
"He not only needs to pull even with Tom but also gain an extra two minutes at least. At least. So it's very demanding as a consequence so becomes pretty much complicated for him to be going strongly here and then again go strongly in the Tour de France."
Italian Guercilena saw the Giro's 15th stage off near his home in Milan on Sunday morning. He must secretly hope that Quintana comes out of the Giro d'Italia tired because his team is supporting Alberto Contador in the Tour de France.
"I hope he does lose a lot of energy here!" Astana manager, Giuseppe Martinelli said. "We are going to the Tour de France with Fabio Aru and for sure, to have a weaker rival would be good.
"Are we, along with Team Sky, thinking of making Quintana use more energy here? No, no. Now we're just thinking about the Giro and not the Tour.
"And, for sure, Nairo in this moment is not thinking about the Tour de France. I don't think the he's thinking about the Tour or the double at this point."
Martinelli guided Marco Pantani to the Giro/Tour double in 1998, the last rider to win both Grand Tours in the same year. He believes the top riders Quintana faces make such a feat difficult 19 years later.
"I think he's going to spend a lot of energy, even to get on the podium," he added.
Paolo Slongo stood among the chaos of fans circled around the Bahrain-Merida bus. Their leader Vincenzo Nibali is racing for a third Giro title, a task that – even without thinking of the Tour – is proving difficult.
"The Giro requires a lot of energy," Slongo, Bahrain-Merida coach and sports director, said.
"The way the Giro is laid out it's not an easy Giro. Everyday is a battle. He needs to attack and for sure, he's going to lose a lot of energy for the Tour de France any way you look at it.
"The thing is with him, he has to gain three minutes to come to level with Tom Dumoulin and then again another two minutes to be safe for the final time trial.
"I can't tell you what he needs to do. I think that his first goal is going to try to win this giro, and afterwards, he will take stock and think of the Tour de France. But this Giro Italia is costly for him."
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