Nairo Quintana has lost time to Sky’s Chris Froome, but he and his team are not resigning themselves to second place in the Tour de France.
Quintana, who was welcomed like a king stepping out of his palace as he exited the Movistar bus before stage 12, “does not know fear”, according to his team.
Nairo stepped off the bus in the white jersey of the best young rider. He also won it in 2013, as well as the polka dot jersey and placed second overall to Froome. This year his goal is still the yellow jersey.
“We are going to take the jersey with an attack or just to ride Froome off our wheels in the mountain stages,” Quintana told Cycling Weekly.
“Our team is strong, we are going well, also with Alejandro [Valverde], who is going very well. No, the race isn’t over. If I’m able to, I’ll ride clear.”
Fans crowded in closely. Further, past the barriers, they chanted: “Nairo! Nairo! Nairo!”
Movistar plans to position five-foot-six Quintana for a lethal attack in the coming days. The win, just like the one he took at the 2014 Giro d’Italia, is within reach, they say.
Even with the time loss in the cross-winds of stage two and nearly a minute on La Pierre-Saint-Martin on Tuesday, Movistar’s captain is not simply going to hand Froome another title.
“Sky are strong,” he added, “but the team is trying to manage the race and is to an attack.”
Quintana began to fight his way through the fans to reach the stage sign in on Thursday in Lannemezan, southwest France.
“Nairo does not know fear,” Team Manager Eusebio Unzué said
“We are convinced the win is possible, we are working for it. The overall classification is still open and not closed down.
“We are still faithful that Nairo can find a magnificent day to recover his time and put Froome in difficultly.”
Unzué, who guided Miguel Indurain and Alejandro Valverde, admitted Sky raced a perfect first week and could draw on the firepower from Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte in the final of a mountain stage.
“They are better; they raced the first week perfectly. The other day, on the first mountaintop finish, they were perfect,” he said.
“At the moment, it’s a bit difficult for us, Alejandro can match Thomas, but we don’t have a third rider like Porte. However, let’s see, the Tour has many twists and turns.”