Nairo Quintana of Columbia in action. Picture: REUTERS
Nairo Quintana of Columbia in action. Picture: REUTERS

Madrid — Colombian climber Nairo Quintana will lead the Movistar team at the 2019 Tour de France, Movistar team director Eusebio Unzue revealed on Tuesday.

During the 2018 Tour, Quintana, who has won the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a Espana, was co-leader of Movistar along with world champion Alejandro Valverde and the Spanish climber Mikal Landa, but in 2019 will spearhead the team’s tilt at the Tour de France title.

Quintana was runner-up to Chris Froome in the Tour de France in 2013 and 2015. Now at his peak, the 28-year-old remains a true contender for a win in the sport’s greatest Tour.

“We will continue dreaming [of the Tour de France win], and we will continue to work for it,” said Quintana.

Unzue admitted last season’s tactics had failed and that backing the Colombian is the key to 2019.

“We want to concentrate our focus on Nairo, on the Tour de France and the Vuelta too,” Unzue said at a presentation of the 2019 lineup in Madrid.

“The key objective for the team this year is to win a Grand Tour,” he said.

The 38-year-old Valverde, who won a thrilling, mountainous world championships in Innsbruck in 2018, will race the Giro in May and the Vuelta in September, Unzue said.

Landa, recruited from Team Sky, will race the Giro in May and then back up Quintana in the Tour de France.

“We were always in there with a chance last season but somehow the strategy [of three leaders] fell short and we failed to meet our objectives.

“We had wonderful moments though with 27 wins, but had bad luck with Quintana and Landa not quite as good as we’d been hoping for,” said the team director. “But that will all change this year.”

Movistar, the second most powerful team in professional cycling after Team Sky, has renewed a deal to sponsor the Spanish outfit until 2021.

AFP