According to Movistar boss Eusebio Unzué, Nairo Quintana will not win the Giro d’Italia or Tour de France unless the little climber masters the windy, flat stages of the Abu Dhabi Tour.
There is something hilarious and ironic about that. Does Chris Froome have to ride Paris-Roubaix to win the Tour de France? Does Mark Cavendish have to slug it out in the Tour of Flanders to win Milan San Remo again?
“To mature as a complete rider, Nairo should do well in flat stages for sprinters, with wind, sand and echelons, as well as races with team time trials,” Unzué told El País newspaper.
Nothing wrong with being a more well-rounded rider but is this really the Giro-Tour blueprint for victory — practice riding in the wind in the desert in the Middle East? Kinda seems silly, a waste of time, counter productive.
What is he really going to learn about riding in the winds of Abu Dhabi? His takeaways: “Wow, it’s really windy here. I need teammates around me to shelter me. My little body and my little bike are buffeted back and forth. Big riders seem to do better in the wind. I don’t like wind — where is the nearest mountain, I feel safer there.”
Yes, we all know that Quintana got hammered in the wind on stage one of last year’s Tour, losing 1-28 to Froome. But is he really going to get measurably better after a few says in Abu Dhabi? Is a short course lesson learned in February going to be helpful in July in France?
Hey, we don’t know anything compared to Quintana and Unzué. They’re the experts, they have the experience, they do this for a living. Still, this is one of those things that from a distance just sounds foolish and misguided.
We’re throwing this idea in with the Giro-Tour double. Movistar says they have data to give them confidence that Quintana will actually be stronger in the Tour if he does the Giro beforehand. Maybe they have data that says riding in the wind in Abu Dhabi is just the new training that Quintana needs.
This almost feels like one of those over-thought marginal gains things. It kinda makes sense on some level but in the end it feels like a waste of time.
But what do we know? How many races have we won? Still, have to question to method.