Nairo Quintana is 'the only one to put Chris Froome in difficulty'

Nairo Quintana's Movistar team boss says that the Colombian is the only rider who can challenge Chris Froome in the Tour de France

Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana during the 2016 Tour De France.
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

Team Movistar says that Nairo Quintana is "closer and closer" to a Tour de France victory, given that he has "been the only one to put Chris Froome in difficulty".

The Colombian is due to race the 2017 Giro d'Italia and take aim at the Tour de France for a fourth time. So far, he has finished second overall twice behind Froome and third behind him in 2016.

"It is getting closer and closer," Movistar General Manager Eusebio Unzué told Spain's Marca newspaper about a Quintana Tour victory.

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"Not that he lacked anything so far, he just found a superior rival. The start of his career coincided with the great dominator of the grand tours over five years, Chris Froome.

"Today, it is difficult to beat him, but it is true that Nairo has been the only one who has been able to put him in difficulties."

Nairo surprised many, and himself, in 2013 when he finished second to Froome. He focused on the Giro, and won, in 2014. In 2015, he returned to the Tour to win, but was caught in the crashes in cross-winds in the first road stage. He lost time that he could never recover.

Last year, the small Colombian never appeared at his best during the Tour. The team said that he suffered from allergies. Quintana showed his character by fighting back to take third spot before the Tour arrived in Paris.

Unzué praised 31-year-old Froome for his attacks on the descent and cross-winds, but said that Quintana, 26, needs to keep racing has he has been.

"Each one has his characteristics. In 2015, he [Quintana] was very close to winning, but Froome had the support of a great team and was impossible to beat," Unzué added.

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"The difference is that Froome is in his maturity cycle that goes from 26 to 32 or 33 years old, which is when an athlete is at his best.

"Our team's culture [is to race for grand tour wins]. Since 1983, we have gone uninterruptedly and always put everything into it. At the moment, we have two men who have been on the podium in recent years with [Alejandro] Valverde and Nairo, and that shows that we are specialists in the grand tours."

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.