Nairo Quintana fears managers exploiting young Colombian riders to find next Grand Tour star

The Giro and Vuelta winner says bad management is forcing riders to quit cycling

Nairo Quintana (Photo by Luc Claessen/Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Nairo Quintana has revealed his fears that managers could be exploiting young Colombian riders in search of the latest Grand Tour superstar.

Quintana, winner of two Grand Tours, is an influential figure in his home nation both on and off the bike and a groundbreaking rider for Colombia on the world stage.

But the 30-year-old has shared his concerns that managers could be taking advantage of young riders in the search of the next Quintana, Rigoberto Urán or Egan Bernal.

Speaking on the podcast El Leñero (opens in new tab) Quintana, who has joined Arkéa-Samsic, said: “The managers arrive [in Colombia] and say they want to take them to Europe at 15 or 16 years old, without hardly leaving school and they put them there in cellars in different countries, eating badly, living poorly, and suffering, leaving the children with many psychological problems and abandoning cycling and abandoning everything.”

Quintana said European managers often travel to Colombia to offer contracts to junior riders and saying they are the representative who signed the likes of Urán (EF Pro Cycling), Iván Sosa, or Bernal (Team Ineos) and “cheating them to accidentally find a champion and fill their pockets with money.”

Colombian has become a focal point in professional cycling after the emergence of star riders like Quintana, Urán and more recently emerging talents like Bernal, Sosa and Sergio Higuita.

But Quintana says he has been working with young riders in the hopes of preventing them from travelling to Europe before they are ready.

He said: “There are many who have returned to Colombia unsuccessful, frustrated, and that has been difficult to see.”

Instead he recommends riders stay in Colombia until at least under-23 category, giving them time to finish school and work on their training.

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He said: “There may be exceptions, like Egan Bernal, who won the Tour, but it is a unique case in history.

“Some want to go from junior level to the Tour de France.”

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.