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“Until next Saturday at Monte Zoncolan, we will keep dreaming. Everything is still to come. So far through this Giro, it was all about ‘not losing,’” Movistar DS Jose Luis Arrieta said.

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24.05.2014 @ 06:40 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Nairo Quintana was obviously regarded an outright favorite at the start of the 2014 edition of the Giro d’Italia, but after suffering multiple setbacks in first week and a half of a competition, the 24-year old Colombian found himself 3:29 down in the general classification as the other countryman, Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) seized control. However, reportedly the spirits are still high at the Movistar bus as the team still believes in their leader’s ability to turn thing around in the highest mountains.

 

Quintana, the biggest favorite to win the Giro alongside Joaquim Rodriguez, who once again had all his dreams of winning three-week event crushed on the slippery roundabout over a week ago, but suffering injuries from the same accident and undergoing an antibiotic treatment for chest infection prevented the young Colombian from performing on the expected level.

 

Like many others, however, the Movistar sports director Jose Luis Arrieta believes that the race is not over as riders are yet to hit the highest mountains, Quintana’s natural environment, in the brutal final week of competition.

 

“The real Giro begins this weekend. All the mountains remain ahead of us. We still have hope,” Movistar sport director José Luís Arrieta told VeloNews. “Considering the problems we’ve had, and the time lost in the time trials, we are still within range.”

 

“Until next Saturday at Monte Zoncolan, we will keep dreaming. Everything is still to come. So far through this Giro, it was all about ‘not losing,’” Arrieta said. “In Ireland, with the rain, and the crashes, we’ve ceded more time than we wanted, and we’ve had some setbacks, but all is not lost. We still have not had a climb longer than 20 minutes. The climbs that are longer are still to come.”

 

Arrieta made a point that even though the gap would be too big to make up for it in the Tour, the Italian three-week event is an entirely different spectacle, less controlled by teams and presenting multiple opportunities to go on the attack. Paradoxically, even though the 24-year old Colombian was a highly anticipated winner of the 2014 Giro d’Italia, now its unpredictability is what can save the Movistar leader.

 

“In a Tour de France, these time differences would prove decisive, and it would be practically impossible to come back,” Arrieta said. “The mountains of the Giro provide terrain to attack. It’s not over yet.”

 

Thursday’s Barbaresco-Barolo time trial was a first important test for the Giro GC contenders, and even though Quintana – in line with all expectations, rode well on the uphill opening parts of the course, the Tour de France runner-up faded on latter stretches while the likes of Uran, Wilco Kelderman (Belkin), Cadel Evans (BMC) or even Rafał Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) were just taking up the speed.

 

“I wasn’t as good as I hoped. I had some trouble with my breathing, not with my legs,” Quintana told reporters at the line Thursday. “I hope I can be at my best in the coming days. The idea is still to fight to win this Giro.”

 

Movistar’s doctor revealed that Spanish team tried to hide Quintana’s antibiotic treatment as long as possible not to expose him for attack and claims that the climber should recover ahead of the second weekend in mountains. However, if the 24-year old Colombian is still not fit, it would be the last opportunity for other GC contenders to brutally take advantage of his weakness.

 

“He’s better now. It affected him, and was trying to hide in the bunch the past few days,” González said, confirming that Quintana’s antibiotic treatment has ended. “We hope he gets through [Friday] okay, and can recover for this weekend’s climbs.”

 

“We are hoping that the worst is behind him, and that he will be in top condition for the mountains,” Arrieta said. “Above all, it’s terrain that favors him. With Nairo, anything can happen in the mountains.”

 

Following Thursday’s time trial, the Tinkoss-Saxo manager also stated that it’s too early to cross out Quintana’s chances.

 

“He has lost some time, but he attacks in the mountains like few others,” Riis said. “If he’s not doing well, it would be smart for the others to try to eliminate him this weekend, because if you give him time to fully recover, he will be a danger.”

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