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Quintana’s European return delayed by Covid

Former Giro and Vuelta winner Nairo Quintana has been ruled out of next week’s Gran Camino race after contracting a bout of Covid, the Colombian announced on Thursday.

Quintana made his return to cycling with Movistar after a doping ban in the Tour Colombia earlier this month, finishing 21st in the 6-stage event. 

“I finished the Tour Colombia very sick. I already felt quite bad from the previous days,” the diminutive 34-year-old climb specialist said.

Quintana was one of the main attractions for the Gran Camino alongside defending champion and two-time Tour de France winner Jonas Vingegaard (Visma-Lease a Bike) and Olympic champion Richard Carapaz (Education First).

The four-day race begins in the port of La Coruna on February 22 and runs through the rugged Galician hills and Atlantic coastline before finishing in Tui.

Quintana came close to retiring in 2022 when he tested positive for tramadol but made a spectacular return to Spanish team Movistar in October, with whom he won the 2014 Giro and the 2016 Vuelta.

Quintana raced seven seasons with Movistar until 2019, and his return at the head of the team is much anticipated.

“It’s super emotional for me to be back home,” said the 1.67-metre climber in January. 

“It’s been such a tough year. The sleepless nights, so many days of sacrifice.

“But it was all worth it. I won’t waste this opportunity. I know the values of the team, the values of sport. 

“I will give my everything to do things right and I want to help the team achieve the best results.”

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