Nairo Quintana's day, and entire Tour de France, did not go as well as he and team Movistar had hoped; losing 28 seconds to Chris Froome on stage 17, the Colombian says that he is confused by his lack of firepower.
The race favourites group whittled down to 20 or so in the final four kilometres of the 10.4-kilometre climb to the Emosson Dam at 1960 metres. In the race's third summit finish, followers expected Quintana to finally threaten Froome's lead. An attack never really came, instead Richie Porte (BMC) blasted ahead with Froome and Quintana drifted behind.
"It was not a great day for me, I expected to do better because I had a good feeling, but my body didn’t feel good in the end," he said. "I did the best I could."
The 26-year-old Colombian finished second to Froome in his first Tour in 2013 and again second last year. Insiders believed that he could threaten Froome's reign this year, but instead showed that even his fourth place overall is vulnerable.
Quintana sits at 3-27 minutes behind Froome and 34 seconds behind third place, occupied by Brit Adam Yates (Orica-BikeExchange).
With the Movistar team bus ready to leave its parking spot on the dam, Quintana did not say much. The words "bad day" were repeated by him and the Spanish team's staff.
"I hope I can recover well, as I have always done in previous years. I feel fine, it's just a bad day," he added. "I must recover, let my body respond, as has happened before in other races."
Watch: Highlights of stage 17 of the Tour de France
Quintana won the Volta a Catalunya, the Tour de Romandie and the Route du Sud stage races this year ahead of the Tour.
With only four days to left, three in the mountains, hope is fading for Colombia’s first Tour win.
"We hoped that Nairo could be better, especially after the rest day, but we could see that he didn't have the legs to try to go for more," sports director José Luis Arrieta added. "Alejandro Valverde accelerated two times, to try to expose Froome a little more, and but Nairo didn't have his best day.
"He's not bad, the thing is sometimes the strength is there, sometimes it's not. Up to now, the Tour isn't unfolding how he would have liked."
"I don't know about Nairo, in theory, yes, he's OK," Valverde said. "Today there was a lot of heat, maybe it cost him a bit."
Movistar began the Tour with the hopes to win, now it has lowered its aim to simply placing on the podium in second or third. Last year, it placed second and third with Quintana and Valverde behind Froome.
"Seeing how things are, it's very, very complicated to win," added Arrieta "We would have to see a big collapse by Froome."
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