Nairo Quintana (Movistar)
Colombian climbing sensation Nairo Quintana looks set to lead Movistar’s Giro d’Italia charge next season as he looks to better his second place at this year’s Tour de France. His performances at the Tour, taking over as team leader when Alejandro Valverde lost time to a wheel problem, showed he is more than capable of mixing it with the best and holding his own on the biggest stage. And with a proud Colombian tradition of climbing success behind him, not to mention the time trial ability that sealed his victory in the Tour of the Basque Country, Quintana looks well placed to claim a first Grand Tour victory in 2014.
A typically mountainous parcours awaits once next year’s Giro leaves Ireland and heads to Italy, which should play to Quintana’s strengths. Compatriots Rigoberto Uran and Carlos Betancur both shone last year, and with the penultimate stage finishing atop the Zoncolan next year, the stage is set for Quintana to earn his first Grand Tour victory. His performance in the penultimate stage of the Tour – dropping first Chris Froome and then Joaquim Rodriguez to win on Mont Semnoz – show he has the legs for the challenge ahead.