Grand Tour star Nairo Quintana says that the Movistar team will miss Briton Alex Dowsett in their Giro d’Italia line-up over the next three weeks because of his ability to ride strongly over flat roads and through cross-winds.
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Movistar had been expected to select the 28-year-old for the Grand Tour but failed to do so when issuing the nine-man roster centred around Giro and Vuelta a España winner Quintana.
“Yes, we will miss him because he does a very specific job for us and he’s key when there’s a strong wind or on the flats,” Quintana explained.
“But this year he also has the Hour Record and a different schedule. Plus, I’m racing the double [the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France] and Alex Dowsett will probably be a key member on my Tour de France team.”
Dowsett told Cycling Weekly earlier this year that he wanted to be on both rosters to help Quintana with the Giro/Tour double.
The 28-year-old has previous success in the Giro, having won the time trial stage in the 2013 edition ahead of Bradley Wiggins. He aimed to help Quintana, but also take a shot at the two Giro time trials: one through Sagrantino’s wine vineyards at the end of week one and the final stage, starting from Monza and running to Milan’s duomo.
Quintana, with a fresh haircut, spoke softly behind a bank of microphones at a pre-Giro press conference. He arrived in Sardinia as the favourite after placing twice second to Chris Froome (Sky) in the Tour de France and winning the 2014 Giro, the first Colombian to do so, and the 2016 Vuelta ahead of Froome.
This year, instead of the Giro and the Vuelta, he will aim for the Giro’s overall title and one month later, face Froome for the Tour title. If he succeeds, he would be the first to do so since 1998.
“Already one Giro win puts me in the history books, no other Colombian had done so before, but this year is special with the 100th edition and a special occasion for me. The last time I won, I only have good and fond memories about this race.
“Doing the double you need to first win the Giro, so first, my motivation is on the Giro. And for sure, I couldn’t miss a special edition like the 100th of the Giro. It’s what’s on my mind. Of course, I’ve never done the double and [I’ll] see how it goes.”
Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) spoke in the same conference room before Quintana. The Frenchman mentioned the roads in Italy and said, “This is a really an Italian course, so there is some dangers every day.”
Quintana tried to explain why that is. “The road surface is different, yes, I can’t explain way, but the roads are different in Italy versus France,” he said.
“The race is different too. The way the riders race the Giro is probably harder than how they race the Tour de France.”