Quintana on dismal Tour: ‘This is a big blow for everyone’

Nairo Quintana admits that he's too far off the leading pace to challenge for the yellow jersey in the final week of the Tour.

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A reflective Nairo Quintana found himself in unfamiliar territory on the second rest day of the Tour de France.

Instead of talking about how he’s going to win the yellow jersey, he was talking about why he’s not.

“We became too accustomed to always being among the favorites and sometimes even winning,” Quintana said Monday during a press conference. “This is a big blow to the morale for everyone. But that’s life and you have to accept it. We have to be just as good at losing as we do at winning. It’s hard for me, not only for being far from the podium, but far off my usual level.”

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Quintana all but threw in the towel Monday, saying his attempt at the Giro d’Italia in May left him short of form in July. And he promised he’d be back in 2018 with the Tour as the singular focus of his season.

“There wasn’t enough time to recover between the Giro and the Tour,” Quintana said. “Next year, I believe I will be in excellent condition to come and fight for the Tour.”

Quintana’s Tour unraveled Sunday when he lost the wheel in the hard-fought transition stage across the Massif Central, losing nearly four minutes to the GC favorites. Just two days ago, he revived his podium hopes when he rode into the winning breakaway Friday on the road to Foix. On Sunday, his Tour hopes sunk as he fell from eighth to 11th, now 6:16 back.

“We will keep fighting to Paris and try to win a stage,” Quintana said defiantly. “We did everything we could to be ready for the race, but these are the results.”

Some have questioned Movistar’s decision to take on the Giro-Tour double as an over-reach. Quintana finished second in the Giro to a superb Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), only ceding the pink jersey on the final-day time trial.

Quintana was flat by the time the Tour started, and he struggled to match the GC favorites in the key moments of the race. On Monday, Quintana admitted another double attempt won’t be part of his immediate plans.

“I try to pay attention to the critics, because they do not know what it’s like to suffer on the bike, and the sacrifices it takes,” Quintana said. “We’ve had a good season, not only me but the entire team, and if Alejandro [Valverde] had not crashed, things would have been different.”

Quintana added it will be difficult to be on the sidelines as the Tour comes down to a nail-biting conclusion in the final week.

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