Cycle Sport travelled to Pamplona in Spain to meet Nairo Quintana at a pre Giro training camp. In a candid interview the Colombian told us about his incredible upbringing and how it helped him become the rider he is today. Words by Antonio Carlos; photos by Chris Auld
Nairo Quintana first raised eyebrows when he won the Tour de l’Avenir in 2010. He was instantly tipped to be of one of the best prospects for the future of Colombian cycling. Just four years later he has already full filled that promise. Nairoman – as he has been nicknamed in his country – is leading a new generation of Colombian cyclists together with Rigoberto Uran, Jarlinson Pantano, Carlos Betancur, Sergio Henao or Julian Arredondo.
It could sound a little crazy, but many people in Colombia believe it was foretold that Nairo Quintana was going to be a cyclist when his mother Eloisa went into labour. He was born on the 4th of February of 1990. That same day, under a cycling environment in the city of Tunja, Nairo was born in the hospital of San Rafael. Four streets away from the first prologue stage of La Vuelta de la Juventud. A star was born.
For Nairo Quintana’s parents Luis and Eloisa, it wasn’t a rosy and beautiful parenthood with their son. As soon as Nairo was born, the bad luck struck. He regularly got sick and nobody knew why. His little eyes were drying and the innumerable visits to many doctors waiting for answers and solutions were all in vain. Unfortunately, no one could help them.
Quintana talks candidly about this period in his life: “The doctors and many people told my parents that I had many illness problems and difficulties when I was a little boy. Some of them told my family I was going to die”, admitted the Movistar Team cyclist.
“I had constant diarrhoeas and high fever and it couldn’t be stopped while I was a toddler. My parents desperately tried every single doctor but they couldn’t help me.
“The proper medicines given to me by the doctors didn’t work at all in my body. It was thanks to the homemade medicines made by my family which kept me going.
“One day my mother was walking on the streets with me in the pram and a woman approached her and told her: I know your problem with your son.
“This woman told my mother that I had the illness of “tentado de difunto” (The temptation of the deceased).
“Apparently, my mother was touched on her tummy, while she was pregnant with me, by a man who was an undertaker of a woman who died in our neighbourhood. This person prepared the body of this deceased woman before funeral.
“This was a belief of very bad luck in Colombia, and this man passed the bad luck to my mother and me.
“This woman strongly believed in the power of the non-pharmaceutical drugs. She told my mother to give me healing herbs with boiling water. She told my mother, I will get better. She was right indeed.
“The herbs worked immediately in my system and the diarrhoeas and high fever disappeared”.
You can read the full interview in the August edition of Cycle Sport, out now, priced £4.75. The August edition also includes: Classic Tour stages, France’s next generation, Giro picture special, Racing Digest and more. Cycle Sport is also available to download via iTunes, Google Play, Zinio.com and on Kindle and Nook devices.