In front of a big pool of journalists, the Movistar Team held today its press conference prior to the start of the 100th Tour de France tomorrow in Corsica, with a 212km road stage from Porto-Vecchio to Corsica. Alongside Eusebio Unzué, team leader Alejandro Valverde and one of the biggest hopefuls in the race, debutant Nairo Quintana, talked to the media for nearly an hour. With the biggest goal of taking Valverde into the final overall podium in Paris, Unzué remarked the intentions from the team in the beginning of the race: “What worries us right now is hiding from misfortune in these first three stages in Corsica. The Tour is the biggest goal of the season for all teams and riders, and that adds an extra dose of danger, increased by the roads of this island. It’s crucial for us to reach stage four in Nice so as to make a good team time trial: we have a strong squad to contest the win or, at least, not losing too much time in view of our GC chances. We’ll build up from there, hoping to get well into the mountains.”
In turn, Valverde and Quintana commented on their feelings 24 hours before the start of the French grandtour:
Alejandro Valverde: “We have a clear intention in mind this year: fighting for a podium place in Paris, or even yellow if possible. It’s true that I’m getting a bit old, 33 right now, and we have gone through many moments of joy and sadness in the Tour. We did well more or less in the last few years, with some stage victories, but I think we can aspire to something else in this year’s race. I feel different right now: another mentality, more experience; a stronger squad than the already-powerful ones I always had. We have more conviction and I think we can do well. Looking at the race routes from previous editions, this year’s doesn’t do bad for me at all. I like the mountains, and also the TT’s suit me – except for the first individual one, of course. We have a solid block, ready not to lose much time in the TTT or even fight for the win, and the second ITT is really hard and looks good for my conditions.
“For all he has done, it’s obvious that Froome is a step ahead of the rest. But behind him, there are some riders like me, really close to each other. I respect every single one of them, but don’t fear them at all. The race is long, open to different kinds strategies every day, and things change, but our goal on paper is making it onto the podium – I don’t know which spot. It will be a hard race against Sky, but they’re not invincible. There are some hard stages which aren’t necessarily mountain-top finishes – it might happen something as in the last Vuelta a España, decided into a day where anyone was expecting it. Nairo and I are good friends and team-mates – in and out of the races, our relationship is pretty good. We all know his class and quality, and though it’s true he will be debuting in the Tour this year and we must stay calm and let him learn bit by bit, I know he can fight for yellow in the future.”
Nairo Quintana: “I have spent almost two months in Colombia without any racing, trained hard there and my feelings are good before the race. I’ll try and get into the racing condition during the first stages and help Alejandro as much as I can. I didn’t think about the white jersey or the KOM one: we are all focused on helping Valverde. We’ll see how the race goes, with the mountains and the team strategies – we might try to shine as well as breaking Sky’s control of the race.
“I really like France – it brings me good memories. Ever since I started following cycling as a child, I already watched and heard the adventures of Indurain, Botero or Alejandro himself in the Tour, and dreamt of racing these competitions. The Tour de l’Avenir was the race that brought me to the spolight in cycling for the first time, and I did well also on other French races like the Dauphiné. The crowds are usually big and the roads suit me well.”