Nairo Quintana spoke to the media alongside Movistar team manager Eusebio Unzué in the traditional press conference prior to Saturday’s start of the 2017 Tour de France with a 14km ITT in Düsseldorf.
If the Colombian can win the Tour, he will join a select group of riders who have won all three Grand Tours, having won the Giro d’Italia in 2014 and Vuelta a Espana last year.
Quintana has finished on the podium of the Tour on three occasions, having finished 2nd in 2013 and 2015 and 3rd last year.
These were Quintana’s words on his feelings, rivals, the route and how he has approached the ‘Grande Boucle’ in terms of preparation:
“The Tour is the most important race of all, and my biggest goal of every season for both myself and the team. I always come here to do my best. My best memory from the race is the 2013 edition when I made my debut. I was so nervous at the start, yet we got those nerves off and things ended up going way better than we all expected.”
“We’re still as excited as then and we won’t stop chasing that big goal. As in every July, I come here to give my 100% and enjoy this sport, hoping that both the Movistar Team’s fans and the Colombians become happy with our performances. We’re calm and we’ve got a really strong team which will support me in the best of ways.”
“I think I’ve recovered well after the efforts in the Giro. My condition is good, I’ve rested well, my legs are rolling well and I’m excited towards what’s to come. Last year I was better at my second Grand Tour that I was at my first – which was the Tour de France.
“My approach to the race has been quite different this season, and before the end of the Tour we won’t be able to know if we were right or missed something, and what should we change for the future. It was clear for us beforehand that the biggest challenge was the Tour de France; we just hope we’re healthy and strong enough to shine into the mountains.”
“The fact that there’s less time trialing and those two time trials’ routes being less unfavourable for my abilities might make it better for me, though it’s certain that I’ll lose some time in those days, it’s normal. Still, it’s less of a worry than in the Giro. I’d have liked, though, to have more mountain-top finishes, though there are many tough days that should suit my condition.”
“It will be a Tour suited for big strategies, with lots of moves. We’ll have to be adventurous as well as avoiding risks – starting with tomorrow’s opening TT. I would prefer it not being a wet one, but as long as we get through unscathed, it will be fine for me.”
“We’ve seen many great riders doing strong in the last few races, but to me, the biggest rival is still Chris Froome. I’m sure his form will have improved after the Dauphiné. Then there’s Aru, Bardet, Alberto, Porte, some surprise riders – it’s not like lottery, but you’ll have to be fortunate as well as strong, because there are so many candidates and you will need to stay out of trouble to win this.”