Colombia cyclist Nairo Quintana said Thursday he is “ready to win the Tour [de France],” the world’s most important cycling tournament that is set to start on Saturday.
Quintana only barely lost The Tour last year when he finished second and brought home two jersey’s, one for being the best rider in the mountains and another for being the best young cyclist.
The Colombian’s winning streak was unprecedented in the country’s rich cycling history, but not enough for Quintana, the lead rider for the Spanish Movistar team.
“My teammates have adapted better to me and I to them. I have gained a lot of maturity and tranquility and I got a solid team. A thousand things have changed, all for the better,” he said in an interview sent to media by his employer.
Quintana’s main competitors, the British Chris Froome (Sky), Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) from Spain and Fabio Aru (Astana) are not Quintana’s main concern ahead of the tour. Instead, he said to be mostly concerned about “the stress of the competition and the danger of crashes.”
The Colombian is not alone in feeling confident about his role in the race.
Bernard Hinault, a five-time winner of the tour, told press that Quintana “lacks nothing.”
“He gained a year in maturity while the others have gotten a year older,” said the 62-year-old Hinault, the last Frenchman to have won the tour.
“If he wins the tour, a lot more Colombians will follow.”
One Colombian who has come after Quintana is his teammate Winner Anacona, who will be working to support his team captain together with five Spanish and one Portuguese riders.
Other Colombians taking part in this year’s Tour de France are Sergio Luis Henao (Sky) and Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling).