Tour de France: Stage set for Quintana’s Alpine charge

Nairo Quintana won the polka dot jersey in 2013 and will be aiming to dominate on the Alpine climbs this week
Nairo Quintana won the polka dot jersey in 2013 and will be aiming to dominate on the Alpine climbs this week
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Guy Watson, founder of Portsmouth-based i-Team, looks ahead to the final week of the Tour de France.

If I was Nairo Quintana, I’d be pretty happy right now.

I know that sounds strange – after all the little Colombian is 3min 10sec behind Chris Froome with the Brit seemingly unbeatable.

But I wonder if Team Sky have already played all their cards in this Tour.

I thought they made a very brave move last Tuesday – attacking immediately after the rest day to take a lead they would have to defend all the way to Paris on Sunday.

Maybe they were supremely confident to take the whole race on with two weeks remaining.

Alternatively, they might have thought it was their last opportunity to take control because the likes of Geraint Thomas and Richie Porte would be toast by the third week.

Thomas and Porte have got through a lot of work protecting Froome in the Pyrenees.

They are super-fit guys but those efforts must take their toll eventually.

I also think they expected take more time out of Quintana.

It all adds up to a thrilling four stages in the Alps – starting today.

I revealed in my first column I had a small wager on Quintana.

I figured Sky would fade in the third week, leaving Froome isolated more and more on the long Alpine climbs.

If this happens, it will play into the hands of Movistar – who will launch a two-pronged attack with Quintana and Alejandro Valverde.

They made a few moves to test Sky in the Pyrenees but have mainly sat back and watched the British team elminate the other rivals.

So I reckon Quintana will make a big move and take time back off Froome.

If he doesn’t, I’ll eat my casquette!

Oh and while it hasn’t been a great Tour for him, Mark Cavendish will win on the Champs Elysees, of course!