Quintana. Two attacks and finished.

Nairo done attacking?

Nairo done attacking?

The sueño amarillo is officially over. Froome nightmare in force.

Movistar’s Nairo Quintana admitted as much yesterday after his disappointing efforts on the climb up to the Emosson dam. He re-affirmed that sentiment today with a disappointing time trial in Megève– and a mountainous one suited to a climber — that put him 4:37 behind the man leading the race, Chris Froome of Team Sky.

Have we seen the last attacks from Quintana? His two in the Pyrenees lead to nothing and now, he says allergies or a mystery ailment are preventing oxygen from getting to his legs. He’s not himself, the sensations are not good, he doesn’t know exactly what’s gone wrong. Which is not exactly a blueprint for winning Le Tour.

It would be a sad and frustrating end for Quintana. After two years as runner-up, he now fights just to hold fourth overall. The one, true rival with a shot to beat Froome is already sounding the “Well, there’s always next year” bell.

He and his Movistar squad have been out-maneuvered, out-spent, out-recruited and over-powered by Team Sky. Froome is the strongest man in the race on the strongest team in the race with the strongest budget in the race. It’s an uphill battle to beat Froome and never has the gradient seemed so extreme. It’s a less thrilling race for the runner-up, best of the rest, nearly men.

Movistar and Astana may lead the Team Competition at Le Grand Shindig but that ranking should really be called the Follow Team Sky Around France competition. It would be absurd to think that represents any team accomplishment that matters.

Two attacks, maybe 30 to 45 seconds of aggression, and that’s what you have to show for three weeks and 21 stages. Apparently Quintana was battered by the high winds that blew for several days straight and his recovery was slow. Then came the allergies and then the steep plunge in expectations and morale.

Then again, there ain’t too many happy GC riders in the race. Ask the miserable Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), Pierre Rolland (Cannondale), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) or Tejay van Garderen (BMC). Richie Porte rues the day he lost 1:45 to a routine puncture — he’d be comfortably in second place right now.

Fabio Aru and Romain Bardet are crawling their way toward a possible third place on GC and sure that’s nice if you don’t mind the race for yellow being definitively fini. Only Bauke Mollema of Trek-Segafredo and Adam Yates of Orica are thrilled with their rides.

That’s plenty of good company for Nairo Quintana. Plenty of lost dreams, hard luck and commiseration to go around. Perhaps in the final day in the Alps, he will put in an attack or two, but they won’t be directed at Chris Froome. it will be a final desperate stab at the last step on the podium.

For Quintana it was a two attack Tour against Froome. Let us be the first to welcome you to the 2017 Tour de France.

 

 

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