Nairo Quintana backs Ineos to manage three Tour de France leaders

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Nairo Quintana believes Team Ineos will be able to manage the competing ambitions of Egan Bernal, Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas at the 2020 Tour de France, but he is confident of being able to replicate the successful form he showed before the COVID-19 pandemic in his debut with the new Arkéa-Samsic team.The Colombian joined the French team this season after two unsuccessful editions of the Tour de France as part of a triumvirate of leaders at Movistar.

In an interview with Marca, Quintana tipped his compatriot Bernal as the favourite for this year’s postponed September Tour and said he did not expect Froome to leave Ineos before the Grand Départ Nice on 29 August.

“No, I think the three leaders will continue to go on the Tour,” Quintana said.

“I’m sure they’ll have the ability to handle everything very well and, with the team they have, they’re going to be able to have no rivalries. It’s a serious line-up, which in the end will solve everything during the race. »

Quintana had a sparkling start to 2020 before the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forced the season to be suspended in March. His victories at the start of the season at Mont Ventoux, Col d’Eze and La Colmiane have marked him among the main contenders for the Tour, despite his difficulties in making a good impression in the general classification since his last podium in 2016.

“I always have the motivation to be there. This year I had a good start to the season and I hope to get back on the podium. I’m hopeful in that regard,” said Quintana, who downplayed the idea that the pro-Continental Arkéa-Samsic team would not have the strength to compete with teams like Ineos, Jumbo-Visma and Astana in September.

Quintana will share the direction of Arkéa-Samsic with French compatriot national champion Warren Barguil, with sprinter Nacer Bouhanni already confirming that he will not participate in the Tour.

“I may lack stronger riders for the mountains. But, well, little by little, we’ll see. It is true that all the teams mentioned have very versatile riders. »

The 30-year-old confirmed his intention to resume his season at the Tour de l’Ain in August and then to ride at the Critérium du Dauphiné for the Tour.

Quintana is currently in Colombia, but he will aim to return to Europe in mid-July. Although international passenger flights to and from Colombia have been grounded until 31 August, the Colombian Cycling Federation is working on plans to secure a special charter flight to allow professional cyclists to return to Europe during the summer.

Quintana has identified fellow and defending Tour de France champion Bernal as the favourite for this year’s race.

“From my point of view, it seems to me that, for the Tour, Egan is the big favorite, with Ineos,” Quintana said.

“Then, for the Giro, I think [Vincenzo] Nibali and for the Vuelta, perhaps [Alejandro] Valverde. For the World Championships, it’s very complicated to say now because of all the races that have not yet been done. »

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