Quintana to defend title by beginning his season in Tour de San Luis

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Defending champion Nairo Quintana has been confirmed as starting the 2015 Tour de San Luis, with the Movistar rider deciding to once again begin his season in the Argentinean event.

Although the Colombian’s main goal of the Tour de France will take place over five months later, team manager Eusebio Unzue isn’t ruling out the possibility that his rider could win the race.

“Due to the good weather, it is a perfect race to start to build a solid base,” he said. “Last year he began calmly, but he rode stronger and stronger day after day.”

Quintana told Biciciclismo that he was looking forward to returning to the event. “I like San Luis,” he said. “It is really important for Argentinian and American supporters because they identify themselves with me.

“They are proud of me and I feel happy and flattered.”

He will be joined by his brother Dayer, who won the queen stage in the Tour of Austria. The organisers have not yet disclosed the rest of the team.

The race begins in January 19 and runs for six days.

Quintana showed his class in 2013 when he finished second in his debut Tour de France. His team deliberately withheld him from this year’s edition, sending him instead to the Giro d’Italia. He dominated that, taking his first Grand Tour.

He then went on to race the Vuelta a España but any chances of doing the double were dashed when he crashed heavily in the time trial while wearing the red jersey of race leader. He finished the stage but was forced to withdraw the following day.

His team has decided to put him in the 2015 Tour and he will hope to beat rivals such as defending champion Vincenzo Nibali, past winners Alberto Contador and Chris Froome plus others and take his first yellow jersey in Paris.

However Unzue wants the media and others to give him some space. “Do not put this pressure on him,” he said, speaking about the suggestion that he would be one of the big favourites. “There is only a winner and Nairo is one of the aspirants, but he is still young and he must still learn.

“The first objective is to be in good shape at the Grand Départ.”

He added that because the rider didn’t race much in the second half of last season, it was important for him to start competing early.

“The rest of his programme is not yet confirmed. But after having won the Giro he only rode the Vuelta a Burgos and some stages of La Vuelta. We think that he must start to ride soon, but with caution because the goal is in July.”

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