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After a few seasons marked by injury and illness, the Arkéa-Samsic climber showed that he can still match the most lethal accelerations in the mountains when he’s on a good day.
“This Tour has been very fast, so to be in the top 10 is good,” Quintana said. “One year ago I finished the Tour sad and destroyed. I had come back from injuries, then I was hit by COVID, and I took the vaccines and no one knew if they were going to work.”
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A decade ago, Quintana was one of the leading stars of the “Class of 1990,” and hit the Tour podium three times between 2013 and 2016, always finishing behind Chris Froome.
While Froome is still trying to recover from his career-threatening crash in 2019, Quintana appears to have bounced back from knee injuries that required surgery after the 2020 season. Last year, Quintana was a husk of his former self, and finished a Tour-worse 28th.
“I was accumulating injuries, and that made last year’s Tour just terrible,” Quintana said Saturday. “This year, we planned on hitting the Tour in good form, a race that we understand and we came here to make the race. It’s been years since I’ve been this close or was within a breath of the podium, and it could have happened.”
Quintana hints he will stay with Arkéa-Samsic
Now 32, Quintana was able to follow the lethal accelerations of the Tour’s best in the Alps, but struggled in the Pyrénées. Instead of fighting for the podium, he was in a struggle to mark the “best of the rest.”
On Saturday, he slipped back one spot from fifth to sixth, but it’s his best Tour result since he was eighth in 2019.
Quintana said he struggled with the heat of the roads with the cool, air-conditioned hotel rooms at night, and said he was suffering a bit from a minor cold. At least he didn’t go out of the Tour with COVID.
Will he stay or will he go? With his contract up after three seasons with Arkéa-Samsic, Quintana hinted he’s staying with the French second-tier team harboring ambitions to jump to the WorldTour.
“We are negotiating,” he said. “I am with the team that really reached out to me. The first years were complicated, with injuries and we could assimilate as well.
“Now we’ll sit down and analyze things,” Quintana said. “We’ve given good results. This year in all the race we’ve finished inside the top-10. New signings are coming on and I believe I will stay.”
With sixth, Quintana was the best Colombian in the 2022 Tour. “NairoMan” is back.