Quintana, Valverde uncertain about riding Tour de France; said decision is yet to be made
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Quintana, Valverde uncertain about riding Tour de France; said decision is yet to be made

by VeloNation Press at 6:50 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
“The cobbles could make the race dangerous and difficult. It will be crucial to have a strong team at your side in the first days”

Nairo QuintanaSecond overall in his Tour de France debut this year, Nairo Quintana has said that a decision about whether or not he will ride next year’s race will be made after he and Movistar team manager Eusebio Unzué discuss Wednesday’s announced route for 2014 and work out the best options for the squad.

“Now it’s time to talk to Eusebio and see what’s the best choice for me as well as Alejandro, to see which Grand Tours should we be riding,” the Colombian said.

Despite his brilliant debut in the Tour, the best in many years, Quintana has suggested that he might ride the Giro d’Italia rather than the Tour de France next year.

He said that prior to the announcement of yesterday’s route, but the inclusion of five mountain top finishes plus just one time trial may well have encouraged him to think again. As a result of a route which looks to favour him over several other contenders, he could decide to focus on the Tour after all.

Quintana’s biggest concern about the route next year is the opening week of the race, with a number of stages needing to be negotiated without time loss. These include the fifth stage, which includes nine sectors of cobbles, several of which are from Paris-Roubaix.

“I could witness it first hand last year, but next year’s Tour could be really nervous in its first week,” he said. “The cobbles could make the race dangerous and difficult. It will be crucial to have a strong team at your side in the first days.

“After that, the first two mountain-top finishes should be good for my characteristics. Both the Alps and Pyrenees offer attractive stages. The finish in Risoul brings me good memories from the time I won a stage in the Tour de l’Avenir, in 2010. I think the Pyrenean stages will be decisive - also the individual time trial should be a key for success. It’s a TT for pure power riders and gaps will be notable.”

In order to make sure he is in the best position going in that time trial, he and other climbing specialists will try to take as much time as possible out of the time trial riders before that final showdown.

That should promote aggressive racing and spice up the Tour. Team-mate Alejandro Valverde will also favour the course, with mountains rather than time trials working well for him.

He said that he couldn’t examine the route in detail as he is in Japan for the Saitama race, but that his initial opinion was a positive one.

“It seems like a route that suits me well…not only because it has just one time trial and it is on the penultimate day. Though it will be flat, the last TT always relies on how much energy is left on your tank at the end of the Tour. Otherwise, it seems like a balanced route.

“The depart from England is good for me, I guess - good luck will be crucial on the cobbles, with all sorts of punctures and crashes bound to happen. We know almost everything on the Alps and the Pyrenees and there will be little room for surprise, but the Tour is more than that - we know it’s decided day by day, any stage can turn into a decisive one.”

Like Quintana, he said that his participation was yet to be confirmed and would depend on what Movistar wanted him to do.

“There’s nothing decided yet on my race schedule - we’ll see if I ride the Giro or the Tour,” he said. “I like the Tour best, but we have to see what’s more adequate for the team’s needs and make a choice based on that.”

Unzué also gave his assessment of the course, saying that the absence of a prologue, an individual time trial or a team time trial would all ensure that the race is more edgy than it might otherwise be.

“The biggest change and probably the most surprising one is having just one ITT, and in the penultimate day,” he explained. “That will certainly make the beginning of the Tour tremendously open and nervous, with the main favourites not able to test themselves until the ninth day of racing. The nerves will be even higher on the cobblestones - it all will be pretty much a matter of survival into the opening eight days.”

He accepts that the Vosges mountains could be important, particularly as they bring the first set of mountain stages in the race. “Although the climbs are short, they will also be hard. Yet, I don't feel like they will be so decisive for the final podium.

“The Alpine stages don't seem to be so demanding, and the Pyrenees and the Bergerac time trial will be defining for the overall. It's true that only 54k of time trials are maybe too few, but being ridden on a single day, the last competitive one, with no margin to recover, will turn them into the key factor of this race.”

Because of the uncertainty about the race and how it could play out, he said that it was too soon to know if the parcours would be in Movistar’s favour or not.

As a result of that, the final plan vis-à-vis the team’s selection won’t be made at this point in time.

“There's nothing defined on our plans yet - it is now time to sit down with Nairo and Alejandro, and decide which thing is more convenient for us,” he said.

“Nothing is decided at this point, and it's even possible that both could be at the start. We will have to reflect on it further, but the first impression on the race parcours is that Nairo and Alejandro could be fighting for the overall victory.’
 

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