By Martyn Herman
DUESSELDORF, Germany (Reuters) – Colombian Nairo Quintana says he will be have to be adopt a more “daring” approach if he is to win the Tour de France for the first time this year.
Movistar’s Quintana came in for some criticism during the Giro d’Italia for not attacking hard enough and with a Tour route that does not necessarily suit his strengths he will have his work cut out to unseat Britain’s Chris Froome.
But the 27-year-old was upbeat about his chances when he held a news conference in Duesseldorf on Friday ahead of this weekend’s Grand Depart in the German city.
“We will play with our strategy,” Quintana, who has been on the podium in Paris three times, told reporters. “It wouldn’t be the first time we have done it. But we need to be daring.”
Quintana, third last year, having finished second in 2013 and 2015, began the year targeting a Giro-Tour de France double but was beaten at the death by Tom Dumoulin in Italy when he was overhauled on the final-day time trial.
After that setback former Tour great Greg LeMond said Quintana needed to be more explosive when he attacked in the mountains to have any chance of taking time out the likes of Team Sky’s reigning champion Froome and BMC’s Richie Porte.
Quintana’s time trialing also came under scrutiny, although this year’s Tour route has only two short individual TTs.
The down side for Quintana is there are only three of the summit finishes that he revels in.
“Maybe it’s a bit less favorable than other years,” he said. “For me the more climbs the better,” he said.
“But the sensations are positive, I’m looking forward to coming to this race because it’s the main objective for me and for our team.”
Quintana said he had no worries about his energy levels after the Giro — saying the build-up was always focused on peaking at the Tour de France.
“Last year at the Vuelta (which he won) I was better than at the Tour de France,” he said. “This is a course that, because of my characteristics, is good for me.”
Team manager Eusebio Unzue said he was confident his leader would deliver — explaining why only Quintana addressed the media and not the likes of Spanish team mate Alejandro Valverde.
“The team has only one leader, Nairo,” he said, before underling Valverde’s importance to the cause.
“Having Valverde around gives Nairo tranquillity. If everything develops normally he will have a great companion.
“The big favorite again is Froome but ‘Bird’ (Quintana’s nickname) is in good shape,” he said.
“It’s not a typical Tour, it’s weird, we’ll have to improvise. I see it like a Tour without any script.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Julien Pretot)