Nairo Quintana says he left Movistar as he 'did not want to argue with the other leaders'

The Colombian climbing star explains his Movistar exit and shock move to French team, Arkéa-Samsic

Nairo Quintana winning attack on stage seven of the 2020 Paris-Nice to La Colmiane
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The 2019 season was inevitably set to be Nairo Quintana's last at Movistar, though cycling fans were left to wait to find out where he would be riding next.

It was announced late in the year that the Colombian would join French UCI ProTeam Arkéa-Samsic with a small Colombian group around him to lead the team at races like the Tour de France.

Speaking to Colombia's El Tiempo, the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España winner said he's not unhappy about dropping down a level.

"I do not regret having dropped a rank," Quintana said. "I wanted to be happy, I did not want to argue with the other leaders, waging war is not my way of working. We have a lot of responsibility in this adventure. Winning is good, it gives me confidence and joy."

Movistar's stacked line-up of Grand Tour contenders, including Alejandro Valverde and Mikel Landa, meant it was not always clear who was leading the Spanish team.

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While all three finished in the top-10 at last year's Tour with Quintana winning a stage, Landa was the team's best placed rider on general classification in sixth place at 4-23 back on the race winner Egan Bernal (Team Ineos).

Quintana says he is now focused on getting back to his best with his new team and the riders around him. The 30-year-old has already taken five wins this season, but the ongoing coronavirus pandemic means it is unclear when he'll be able to race again.

"We are calm and growing," Quintana said. "We have to keep improving. We don't have a team like Ineos but we work to have the best riders and have more support."

"It was a risky decision [moving to Arkéa]. We studied what the team gave us and the options to compete in the UCI WorldTour and more specifically in the Tour de France, which was the most important thing."

He continued: "When they confirmed that there would be no problems competing in the Tour, I did not hesitate and signed."

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The main surprise was that Quintana dropped down a level from WorldTour to ride with Arkéa-Samsic, but he says doesn't see it that as an issue, with the team regularly receiving invites to top-level races.

"I do not hide from anyone for lowering a category. I do not miss riding in the WorldTour. We were going to compete in several races of the circuit such as Volta a Catalunya, the Ardennes Classics, Tirreno-Adriatico ... I wasn't worried about not being on the WorldTour."

Quintana has been perfoming excellently in his opening races for his new team, winning the Tour de la Provence overall, thanks to an scintillating ride up to Chalet Reynard on Mont Ventoux.

He also won the final stage of Paris-Nice on La Colmiane with a late attack.

Landa also moved on from Movistar for 2020, joining Bahrain-McLaren where he has already performed well earlier this year in Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana.

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.