Quintana and the Giro-Tour double. Double trouble.
Cycling Weekly made their 2017 predictions and numbers uno was Quintana’s foolish Giro-Tour double. In their words, “Should he follow through on his plans, the narrative of 2017 virtually writes itself – Quintana to win the Giro, and Froome to win the Tour.”
Is that too harsh on señor Quintana, a kind, humble and ambitious climber with an audacious plan? No, I don’t think so. I second the motion and wonder if Quintana will even make the podium in France. He will be mentally and physically exhausted before he gets to stage one in Dusseldorf, Germany.
We know on a historical level that nobody has pulled off the Giro-Tour double win since the highly juiced Marco Pantani. It just doesn’t work anymore: the grand tours are harder, competition level higher, mental stresses exponential.
By way of justification and proof, Quintana and his Movistar team manager Eusebio Unzue claimed they have objective, unassailable data that the Colombian actually gets stronger during the second grand tour. This seems oddly Sky-ish, an analytics play from a Spanish team.
“We are in possession of data that gives us confidence that, if he completes the Giro d’Italia in good fashion, he will tackle the Tour de France in perfect shape,” said Unzue. “In the case of Nairo, after analyzing his data, we are positive he performs better in his second Grand Tour of the season than in his first one.”
Somehow Quintana seems like the last rider to throw himself at the altar of power outputs and data-driven sports science. He always stuck me as a man who rides on instinct, inspiration and force of will. There’s no question he’s an intelligent guy who looks for every edge but I’m surprised he would put so much faith in the spreadsheet.
Quintana claims his top objective is still the Tour and that he can ride the Giro d’Italia to win with a more tranquillo attitude. “The Tour is my unfinished business and my unfulfilled dream. I have to win it,” said Quintana. “That doesn’t go to say that I’m taking part in the Giro just because of passion, or for training. Only that my mood there will be a bit more relaxed.”
Well, okay then, haven’t ever heard of somebody trying to win a grand tour while being relaxed. Hard to buy that scenario as a path to victory in the Giro or Tour. The guys who are more relaxed generally finish outside the top 20 on GC.
In fact, we’re pretty sure that Sky also has some serious data and analytics that say the probability of Quintana finishing the Giro and then winning the Tour are extremely low. Dave Brailsford is already chuckling at Quintana’s lack of judgement. Now all they have to worry about is the aging, almost retired Alberto Contador and a motivated Richie Porte.
So we’ll see who has the right numbers in mid to late July. Maybe Quintana and Unzue have it all calculated correctly. But history, recent evidence and common sense would seem to indicate that Quintana’s “Sueño Amarillo will still be a sueño when the 2017 Tour de France comes to an end.