• Nairo Quintana (Movistar) is proud to reach the podium in Paris (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Rather than take journalists’ bait and talk about the great disappointment at not claiming the overall title at the Tour de France, Nairo Quintana responded with respect for the race, its challenges and its likely victor.
By
Cycling Central

24 Jul 2016 - 9:18 AM  UPDATED 24 Jul 2016 - 9:46 AM

The Colombian climber looks set to claim another third place finish in the general classification, four minutes and 21 seconds behind the leader.

It wasn’t the position he was aiming for, but he has been unable to unleash the form that has seen him dance his way up the mountains in the past. Instead, a more conservative approach to racing means he will likely take the lower step on the podium, which is a podium finish none-the-less.

"I have to congratulate him,” Quintana said of Froome’s performance, according to Cyclingnews.

“The truth is that he's a great rival – strong rival whom I've had to fight against quite a lot,” reminding onlookers that this is just one battle of many.

"In the coming years it will definitely continue that way. Sometimes he'll win, sometimes I'll win, as we've seen this year in the various races we've done together."

As far as the Tour de France goes, the top step remains one that Quintana will keep working for. He finished second to Froome in 2013, his first appearance in the race. He was second again to Froome in 2015. While he has said he doesn’t understand why he doesn’t feel right on the bike this year, third is a result most men would dream of, let alone be able to achieve with one 'bad legs day' after another.

"In the end, the assessment is positive. Obviously we came here with a much bigger and more ambitious goal, but we have many years to keep trying," said the 26-year-old.

"In any case, a podium in the Tour de France – this is the Tour, the biggest thing in cycling – I'm very happy to finish in this position."

En attendant Nairo
After Stage 17, Movistar's Nairo Quintana was left to rationalise his performance, one where where expectations were as lofty as his favoured mountain territory.

While he hasn’t been able to put in any internet-breaking attacks to gain time on his rivals, his result attests his ability to minimise any losses.

"The truth is that I'm very happy. Three Tours, three podiums. I'm finishing this one with great happiness despite the difficulties I've had,” he said after his team-mate Ion Izagirre won the penultimate stage last night, the first and only stage win for Movistar in this year’s Tour.

"And today practically closing the Tour with a stage victory for my team-mate and friend… we've fought so much together and he has supported me so well.

"Going to Paris as a team is very special, and it's not often you get the chance to stand on the podium in Paris,” Quintana said.

"It's a great reward for all my team-mates who fought every day. That has been reflected at the end of this Tour and we can go away very happy."

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