Colombia’s cycling sensation Nairo Quintana claimed that illness cost him dearly as he finished second in the Giro d’Italia bike race after a pulsating final day on Sunday.
Quintana lost out to the Netherlands’ Tom Dumoulin after finishing 1:24 off the Team Sunweb rider on the final stage, dropping to second place in the overall classification, 31 seconds off the top spot.
Quintana lamented the defeat revealing that he had been suffering from illness in the run up to stage 19, which he and his team had identified as one where a significant margin could be gained in advance of the final time trial.
“I had a bit of fever, I woke up feeling a little bad that morning, and I couldn’t give 100 per cent on that decisive day. You could say that I lost the Giro that day,” said Quintana to reporters.
“It was a day that we had marked on the calendar, and we were hoping to make a big differences. But my health wasn’t with us, and it didn’t turn out as we had hoped, but we kept pressing, and we ended up at this podium,” said Quintana.
Despite his obvious disappointment, the Boyaca-born star praised the efforts of his opponent who became the first Dutchman to win the Giro d’Italia.
“Tom was very strong, and we’re still on the podium and that is still important,” Quintana said.
I could have done better in the mountains but my legs weren’t great. We knew that we needed to take more time on him against the clock but it’s hard for me against a specialist like Tom… We worked hard and rode well but you can’t always get what you aim for in a bike race,”
Quintana and his Movistar team announced in January that he would not take part in the Vuelta d’España in order to prioritize the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France.
Movistar team manager Eusebio Unzue confirmed after Sunday’s competition that Quintana would not race again before the start of the Tour de France on July 1 in Dusseldorf.
The three-time podium finisher in the Tour de France will return to his native Colombia to recuperate and prepare for his assault on the race that will cover 3,516 km, taking him across all five of France’s mountain regions.
There are some details to correct, things to polish. The Giro has been a huge test and we’ll analyse the results. This Giro makes me feel even more confident about my consistency in Grand Tours. I know that if I prepare well, I’ll be up there with the best guys in the race – that’s a huge morale boost for the Tour de France.”