After finishing second twice to Team Sky’s Chris Froome, the Colombian’s “yellow dream” is stronger than ever.
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Quintana nearly upset Froome on the final mountain stage to Alpe d’Huez last year. He finished 1-12 minutes behind when the race pulled into Paris the next day. Some say that had he not lost the 1-28 minutes on the windswept second stage through the Netherlands then he could have won.
“I have prepared and I want to win and I want to give that joy to Colombians. So I invite you to join my yellow dream and give me a lot of strength,” Quintana said in Colombia before departing to France and the Route du Sud stage race, which started on Thursday.
“Winning the Tour de France has always been my dream. When I went out cycling with my colleagues and told them that I wanted to win stages and win the Tour overall one day, they laughed at me. I told them, ‘Laugh, but I’m going to go over there and at least I’ll try.'”
Movistar gradually ramped up its support for Quintana. Last year, it began with two leaders and put both Quintana on the podium and Alejandro Valverde in third. This year, it is all for the diminutive cyclist from Boyacá, in the East Andes.
Quintana already placed second in his two participations and the year he skipped the Tour, in 2014, he became the first Colombian to win the Giro d’Italia.
“My main rivals will be Contador and Froome. We must find a strategy and wait to see how they go in the mountains,” Quintana said. “We have seen Froome attack and drop Contador in the Critérium du Dauphiné. I think that they have very similar strengths and I’ll try to take advantage of their rivalry to defend myself.
“Froome’s attacks [last year in the Tour] were very powerful and no one could follow. This year, he has said he has delayed his preparation a little to be at my level in the last week. Hopefully, we can put up with the attacks. I have prepared well, have made some preparations to make those changes in pace.”
Unlike his main rivals, Quintana decided not to race the Critérium du Dauphiné or the Tour de Suisse. Like in last years, he preferred to stay at home as long as possible at 2800 metres altitude before returning to Europe to take on the five stage Route du Sud.