A reborn Nairo Quintana, a debutante Miguel Ángel, ‘Superman’, López, the veteran Rigoberto Urán … In addition to Egan Bernal, a handful of ‘beetles’ aspire to play a great role in the Tour de France and give some surprise in this atypical edition.
The smile has returned to his face and his eyes once again convey that self-assurance that he had a few years ago. Nairo Quintana He savored again at the beginning of 2020 the honeys of victory in a general classification after two years adding only stage wins and faces the imminent Tour with a completely different look than past editions.
After the love ran out between the Movistar team and the Boyacense, Quintana went to the French squad Arkéa-Samsic. Many took their hands to the head with the signing of ‘Nairoman’ by a team of the second division of cycling, but so far the bet is going well.
Quintana won the general of the Tour of Provenza and from Tour of the Maritime Alps in France, reaping two stage victories in the process. After the break, he stood out with a third place in the Tour de l’Ain behind Primoz Roglic and Bernal, before leaving the Criterium del Dauphiné with pain in one knee.
“We have had a very nice start to the season where we have all enjoyed. We hope to continue giving joy, “said Quintana at the end of May in a telematic chat with his director, Emmanuel Hubert, and his partner Warren Barguil. “Many thought that (going to Arkéa) was to take a step back or say enough, and that is not to say enough, it is a new air for the head and the body,” he added about his change of team.
Apart from Bernal and Quintana, there are more ‘beetles’ with options to stand out in the general. It has taken several years, but finally in 2020 ‘Superman’ Lopez will make its debut at the ‘Grande Boucle’. Traditional preserve reserved for his teammate in the Astana team Jakob Fuglsang, the Boyacense had to settle these years with participating in the other two great laps of the cycling calendar.
The 26-year-old cyclist progressed until in 2018 he achieved third place in both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España, and he is ready to make a splash at the Tour. “It is my first Tour and we want to do things well, with the team we have the faith, the desire and the willingness to always provide the best,” he declared to the Colombian Cycling Federation.
Chaves, Higuita and Daniel Martínez
More focused on hunting some stage will be Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton Scott), who in case of achieving a partial triumphs in the big three. After astonishing in 2016 with podiums in the Giro and Vuelta (2nd and 3rd, respectively) the one from Bogotá has dropped its performance and will seek to make up for itself with a good Tour.
For his part, Rigoberto Urán, runner-up in the French round in 2017, will want to show his stripes and act as a mentor to the two promising ‘coffee growers’ that will be lined up by his EF Pro Cycling team: Sergio Higuita and Daniel Martínez.
The future of Colombian cycling may lie in the legs of Higuita and Martínez. The first, after a good performance in the 2019 Vuelta a España, confirmed those good feelings with an outstanding start to the year, conquering the Tour Colombia and the national championship en route. Now he makes his debut on the Tour at 23 years old and wants to continue showing himself.
His teammate Daniel Martínez arrives in Nice, where the start of the Tour will take place, thriving after being proclaimed champion of the Dauphiné. The 24-year-old rider took advantage of Roglic’s abandonment before the last stage, when he was leading, and climbed to the top of the general classification after resisting the onslaught of Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ).