Nairo Quintana wins the final stage of Tour Colombia (Photo by JOAQUIN SARMIENTO / AFP)
Nationality: Colombian Date of birth: February 4, 1990 Height: 167cm Weight: 57kg Team: Arkéa-Samsic Previous teams: Boyacá Es Para Vivirla (2009); Colombia Es Pasion (2010-11) Movistar (2012-2019) Twitter:@NairoQuinCo
Nairo Quintana will ride for Arkéa Samsic in 2020 and is considered one of cycling’s foremost climbers.
However, in recent years the general classification contender has been somewhat overshadowed, with his last podium finish in a grand tour being at the Giro d’Italia in 2017.
Quintana has set himself some bold goals in previous years, such as targeting both the Giro and the Tour de France in 2017. However, he was beaten on both counts.
Quintana rapidly established himself as a Grand Tour specialist early in his career, having taken the overall victory at the 2014 Giro d’Italia and 2016 Vuelta a España.
With two second place finishes at the Tour de France in 2013 and 2015, and a third place in 2016, the Colombian has not met the expectations of many, instead being overtaken by compatriot Egan Bernal to become the first Colombian to win the TdF.
Quintana was born in Boyaca, Colombia, in February 1990 with his cycling background differing from the norm.
Quintana first rode a bike as a school boy when his father invested in a second-hand mountain bike, which Nario used to cover the nine miles journey.
The mountainous route to school had a profound impact on the young Colombian who became fascinated with the sport, later riding competitively and paying the race fees after he had won.
Aged 19, Quintana was rewarded with his first professional contract as he raced for the government-funded Boyacá Es Para Vivirla.
His best result of his season was a tenth-placed finish on stage six of the Giro Ciclistico della Valle d’Aosta Mont Blanc
In 2010 Colombia Es Pasion came calling and Quintana signed a two-year deal, where he raced with his fellow countryman and later-to-be WorldTour rider Sergio Henao.
Quintana competed in a mixture of under-23 and elite races throughout his first season with Es Pasion (now named 4-72) before he won the Tour de l’Avenir general classification.
L’Avenir is translated into “Tour of the Future” and Quintana’s victory by 1-44 portrayed his enormous talent. Two stage wins on the sixth day and the final day’s individual time trial propelled Quintana to the summit of the GC.
Quintana could not defend his title in 2011 Tour de l’Avenir, his best placing being eighth on the second stage as he finished in 21st position overall.
But he did claim the Volta a Catalunya mountains classification by five points from Alberto Contador, another indication of his climbing prowess.
Nairo Quintana on stage five of the 2012 Dauphine-Libere
Spanish team Movistar then decided to snap up the flourishing 5-foot 5-inch ace for the 2012 season and he got off to a successful start by winning the two-day Vuelta a Murcia GC.
He followed that up with second place at the Vuelta a la Comunidad de Madrid and then won arguably his biggest race up until that point by winning stage 6 of the 2012 Critérium du Dauphiné after an intrepid attack.
Despite a GC victory on the Route du Sud – la Dépêche du Midi, Quintana was overlooked for Movistar’s Tour de France team. He did, though, make his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a España and was part of the Movistar team that won the opening day’s team time trial.
Third place in the 2013 Paris-Nice TT was his first result of a year that saw the rider become a household name.
A stage win at the Volta a Cataluyna earned him a spot on the GC podium in third before he won the GC at the Vuelta Ciclista al Pais Vasco thanks to a stage victory and second in the TT.
At the 2013 Tour de France Quintana was a revelation, jostling with the leading contenders on the mountain stages and forcing eventual winner Chris Froome into an occasional game of cat and mouse on the Alpine and Pyrenees slopes.
He came second behind Froome on Mont Ventoux and fourth on stage 18 which involved two ascents of Alpe d’Huez. Each time Quintana conveyed a neutral, pain-free face as he climbed up the GC.
He tucked himself into an aerodynamic stance on stage 17 of a hilly TT, crossing the line in sixth place to strengthen his chances of being on the podium.
He then made sure of second place on the GC, the polka-dot jersey and the young riders jersey after storming away from Froome and Joaquim Rodriguez on the climb into Semnoz on stage 20 to claim the stage win he coveted.
Nairo Quintana on stage 15 of the 2016 Vuelta a España
Quintana continued to go from strength to strength, and despite a slightly less lucrative year in 2015, he still took overall victory at the prestigious one-week race Tirreno-Adriatico as well another second place finish at the Tour, running Froome close in the final week with an impressive attacking display on the penultimate stage to Alpe d’Huez.
The last few years have seen a downward trend in performance and results. A win at Tirreno-Adriatico and several stage wins in mountainous grand tour stages have been consolation prizes for failing to podium at the biggest races.
For 2020, the Colombian joins Arkea Samsic, who wish to gain WorldTour status in 2021. After 7 years at Movistar, it represents a new chapter for the 29 year old. He will attempt to win the TdF in 2020.