Nairo Quintana is one of the main Tour de France contenders, but he is not being talked about by the international press. We think this Colombian rider could well be wearing the yellow jersey when the peloton rides into Paris at the end of the greatest stage race of the year, which runs from July 7th to 21st. A quick look at this inscrutable mountain climber who is one of the three (!) GC candidates in his team.

Team Sunweb’s Michael Matthews (right) on Quintana’s wheel in the Tour de Suisse 2018

Andes school run

Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (28) is a seasoned pro rider, joining his first team in Colombia in 2009. Legend has it that when he was a small child he fell very ill and was cured by an elixir of local plant extracts from his home region in the Andes. Once fully cured, he began cycling to school by mountainbike (he lived in the Andes mountains). Every day he rode down to school and then climbed 14 kilometres back home up the mountain. He learned to cycle well. In 2006 he was hit by a car and spent five days in a coma, but recovered enough to win the Colombian under-23 national time trial in 2009.

Quintana won stage 7 in the Tour of Switzerland 2018

Gifted climber

He is a gifted climber and his first major professional breakthrough came in 2013 when he won the Tour of the Basque Country and also ended second in the GC in his first-ever the Tour de France in the same year.

During that race, he won the 20th stage in Annecy, riding away from Chris Froome and Joaquim Rodriguez, and knocked Alberto Contador off the second spot of the final podium. This victory also won him the climber’s polkadot jersey.

“Mobistar”

Quintana joined the Spanish squad Team Movistar (pronounced “Mobistar” in Spanish) in 2013 and moved to live in Spain. He rode a below average — for his standards — Tour de France in 2017, which he entered after coming second to Tom Dumoulin in the 100th edition of the Giro d’Italia.

Right now, all the signs point to him coming into good form for the 2018 Tour, and he takes an extremely strong team with him. In fact, Movistar are fielding three GC candidates in the 2018 Tour de France: Quintana, veteran hard man Alejandro Valverde (“Balberde”) and Mikel Landa.

The Movistar squad  is extremely strong ahead of the Tour de France 2018

There’s a big chance that at least one of these blue shirts will be standing on the podium in Paris at the end of the Tour de France 2018, and the pocket rocket from Colombia may see this competitive team as his chance to prove his superiority. He is ready — he didn’t ride the Giro — and the individual time trial this year will suit him as it is hilly. Time will tell for the man with two nicknames: Nairoman and The Condor of the Andes.