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Giro d'Italia: Nairo Quintana has potential to be golden boy

Giro d'Italia: Nairo Quintana has potential to be golden boy

Posted by Adrian Pelaez on May 09, 2014

Those in the know say he will be the next big thing in cycling. The one to watch. A rider to rip up the scripts of others and write his own story of sporting greatness.

He's a fearless climber with an attacking style and last year he made an explosive impact at his first Tour de France.

He's a 24-year-old Colombian and he's here in Northern Ireland.

His name? Nairo Quintana, the favourite to triumph in the 2014 Giro d'Italia.

Asked about the tag, he matter of factly replied through an interpreter: "I am happy to be a favourite even though it carries disadvantages."

Speaking to this determined character you get the impression he'll be able to deal with those disadvantages, be it extra pressure or greater responsibility.

Why so sure? Well, he's already dealt with worse coming from a poor upbringing in a place called La Concepcion.

The nearest school was nine miles away. The young Quintana walked to and from his education every day. It was a dangerous and exhausting journey which led to a family decision that changed the boy's life.

They saved up and bought him a second hand mountain bike for $30. It became Nairo's pride and joy. As he rode to school he would dream about winning big races.

He never thought it would become a reality because his family could not afford race fees for even the smallest of meetings until his father asked organisers to let his son race, declaring he would pay the fees from the prize money his boy would accumulate.

The plan worked. The more Quintana raced the more he won and in 2009 he was snapped up by a professional team.

He's been rapidly improving ever since and moved to a new level with his outstanding performances in the 2013 Tour de France.

He outshone his team leader Alejandro Valverde and came second overall behind Great Britain's Chris Froome, claiming both the young rider and king of the mountains jerseys in the process.

It was a startling effort. Froome may have won the Tour but Quintana won French approval and just about every heart in Colombia, which has evaded other champion cyclists down the years, including Rigoberto Urán, who will be one of Quintana's main threats for Giro glory.

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