Nairo Quintana on stardom of new generation: "The career of these young stars will be much shorter"
Nairo Quintana is at 32 years of age, ordinarily an age that many would consider the prime for many GC riders, however much above the current average for the leading stage-racers. The Colombian however, being one of the most experienced stage-racers in the peloton, thinks that this will take a toll on the career of the new emerging generation.
“It is normal for a decline to come at any time in life. But we have also seen this year that Geraint Thomas reached the podium of the Tour at 37 years old, and other older riders continue to make history, like Alejandro Valverde," Quintana told MARCA. “I think that this slowdown depends on the care one has with one’s body. But I think the career of these young stars will be much shorter".
Quintana emerged in the pro peloton in 2012 at the age of 22 and quickly became one of the world's best climbers. Eventually, he went on to win the Giro d'Italia, the Vuelta a Espana, several other World Tour stage-races and multiple podium positions at the Tour de France. Over the last few years he's struggled with consistency, however his sixth place at the Tour de France, combined with premium performances on stages 11 and 16 where he climbed with the very best in the world, show he's still close to his best level.
"For now, I feel good and in a position to continue enjoying the team and the race in the moment that we are in," he continued. “After the Tour de France I have been able to recover my body and I am very calm". Quintana had in mind to ride the Tour-Vuelta double, and after a successful race in France he'll now be eyeing the overall classification in the final Grand Tour of the season, where he won in 2016.
"Now we have a team with more climbers – more than in the Tour, where we opted for the riders for the first week. That gives me the peace of mind of knowing that in the mountains I can be better accompanied. I’m sure we can be fine," he added. Élie Gesbert will be his main domestique, Arkéa will still be in serious disadvantage over rival teams, but without the goal of the red jersey, the Colombian should be able to ride strongly with a similar strategy as to that of the Tour where he did not require much help from the team in the mountains.
“There is very good participation with very important teams and quite serious leaders. I think Arkéa-Samsic can have a good general classification and I want to look for the podium," he admitted. He'll have to face the likes of Jai Hindley, Richard Carapaz, Primoz Roglic and many more in the roads of Spain, but heading into his seventh participation he will know what to expect.
Final startlist Vuelta a Espana with BiB
He was also asked about the Tour de France duel between Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard, which he's witnessed first hand: “I think Pogačar is a bit stronger than Vingegaard. It is clear that Vingegaard has a great and very powerful team that helps complement him as a cyclist.
"The two are very even and I think we are going to see good wars from here on out in the following Tours de France. We are taking advantage of the opportunities that arise behind Vingegard and Pogačar. As long as we have the legs, we will continue trying to be there with them," he concluded.