Team Movistar and their Colombian Grand Tour star Nairo Quintana could be splitting ways two years earlier than 2019, with a decision already set for Monday, says a report in La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper.
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So strong, Movistar signed Quintana on a new contract that runs through 2019. However, after a troublesome 2017 with the Spanish WorldTour team, a season that saw him compete for the Giro d’Italia/Tour de France double, the deal could be broken.
Movistar are trying to break with the 27-year-old and offer a deal to see him put on the market, said the Italian daily newspaper on Thursday.
Reportedly after the Giro in May, when Quintana narrowly lost to Dutchman Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), the team was not happy with its rider wanting to return home to Colombia to train. Quintana stayed at his base in Monaco, instead.
Also, the team and rider reportedly disagreed on the double attempt. The report said that the team wanted Quintana to only race the Tour, but others have said, including Quintana, that the Tour only would have been the best 2017 solution.
He appeared far from his usual punchy self in the French Grand Tour. After two second places and a third place behind Froome, this year he finished in 12th.
General manager Eusebio Unzué would have to pay Quintana to break the contract. He reportedly earns in the ballpark of €3 million a year. La Gazzetta dello Sport said that Unzué would have to spend €6 million (£5.41m) to end the deal early.
Movistar is due to announce soon that Sky star Spaniard, Mikel Landa will join the team for 2018.
Quintana could become Trek-Segafredo’s new Grand Tour rider after Alberto Contador decided he would retire after the upcoming Vuelta a España. He had been due to race through 2018.
Another option is that Quintana replaces Fabio Aru, who is set to announce his UAE Team Emirates deal any day. The Gazzetta article said that an Astana/Quintana deal appears likely.
A report already surfaced in the Tour de France this July that Quintana could leave Movistar early, possibly even joining Team Sky.
Quintana’s father criticised the team’s decision to have him race the Giro and Tour in 2017 and said the team is “burning out” his son.
Dayer Quintana, Nairo’s younger brother, has a contract with Movistar through the end of 2017. It is unsure what he would do if Quintana and Movistar split.
Quintana’s agent didn’t respond when contacted by Cycling Weekly on Thursday.