The Colombian says defending champion Chris Froome is the outright favourite to win the Tour de France
Nairo Quintana says his Movistar team will take advantage of their strength in numbers in the mountains to try and win the Tour de France 2018, but says they’ll need to assess the situation after the crucial pavé day to Roubaix on stage nine.
The Colombian will line-up alongside the Spanish squad‘s two other strongest general classification riders Alejandro Valverde and Mikel Landa for the Tour, with none of them having attempted to try their luck at victory at the Giro d’Italia earlier in the year.
Quintana said in a preview of the race that the trio have “got on well” so far this season but admitted a clearer leader will emerge through the opening week of the Tour, particularly over the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix.
However, Quintana made no secret that he is aiming to stand on the top step of the podium come the final day in Paris after a slower build-up to the race which has seen him race just 29 days in comparison to 48 days last year.
“Our goal is winning the Tour,” Quintana said. “It’s the Grand Tour I’m still missing in palmarès, one that I’ve always dreamt of. We’ve got a great team. Let’s hope we can get safely through the first few days, working together as we’ve always done, and hopefully best our rivals for the victory.
“It’s probably the best squad I’ve had by my side for a Grand Tour,” he added.
“Mikel, Alejandro and me – well, we’ve already shared leadership roles in this season and in the past, and it’s gone well for us. We got on well with each other and we haven’t gone through any real troubles. As the race develops, the scenario for us should get clearer.
“Let’s see how our forces stand after the pavé stage – it would be phenomenal for us to have got through that stage with all three in a great position. We’re three and we’ve got to take advantage of that strength in numbers to chase the victory.”
Quintana has the most Grand Tour pedigree of the three leaders. The 28-year-old has finished second at the Tour de France twice behind Chris Froome (Team Sky), but has also won the Giro d’Italia in 2014 as well as the Vuelta a España ahead of Froome in 2016.
Valverde, despite his long career, has only won one Grand Tour at the Vuelta in 2009 but has finished on the podium at the Tour with a third place in 2015. Landa’s best Grand Tour result came with a third place at the Giro in 2015, but finished fourth at the Tour last year while supporting Froome at Sky, missing out on the podium by one second to Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale).
As for their rivals, Quintana says that four-time winner Froome is the clear favourite, but identified a number of others that could present a problem for Movistar, including Primož Roglič (LottoNL-Jumbo), who beat Landa and Quintana to victory at the Tour of Basque Country in April.
“Froome and Team Sky are the number one contenders for this race, that’s obvious,” Quintana said.
“After them, there are some riders who stand a big chance, especially if they get through the pavé stage unscathed. We’ve already seen [Vincenzo] Nibali taking advantage of such cobbled stages when he won the Tour four years ago.
“Then there’s another kind of riders more or less similar to each other, with some stronger or weaker points but quite alike, names likes [Richie] Porte, [Romain] Bardet… Plus, we’ve got to see how Roglic tackles the race, how’s his form, and if he’s able to confirm what he’s shown this year. “