At the end of 2019 Nairo Quintana will leave Movistar to join Arkéa-Samsic, and the manager of his new team says the Colombian’s move was due to a need for a fresh start that would present new challenges, while also claiming he is still a real contender for the Tour de France.
Movistar was Quintana’s first and only European team, who the 29-year-old won two Grand Tours with, but confusion over internal struggles surrounding team leadership roles have marred his last three Tours de France since his podium finish in 2016.
Emmanuel Hubert, Arkéa-Samsic’s manager, has said one of the main reasons he was able to secure Quintana’s signature was that the rider wanted “a team with new challenges”, as the Colombian still desires a Tour de France victory for his palmarès.
According to Spanish newspaper El País de Colombia, the relationship between Quintana and Movistar was beginning to deteriorate, and with that the possibility of the rider looking for a fresh start emerging Arkéa-Samsic pounced to secure his signature.
Quintana is the latest signing for an ambitious French team that also houses French road race champion Warren Barguil, who are looking to step up to the WorldTour ranks.
Alongside Cofidis, Arkéa-Samsic have applied for a WorldTour licence ahead of the 2020 season, with the ranks of the top tier of professional cycling potentially swelling to 20 teams next year.
This confidence that Quintana won’t be stepping down to the Pro-Continental level and will therefore be able to compete in any of the three Grand Tours, will have presumably been key to gaining his signature for next year.
“The first conversation I had with Quintana was during the month of May,” Hubert said, “from that moment the whole process began to motivate him to sign for us.”
“The fact of being in a team that is not part of the WorldTour for now can put a little pressure on you depending on the results all the time.
“There is an obligation for that result, and I think Nairo needed to feel and get new challenges to overcome. Everyone who knows Nairo knows that he is a very humble person, who focuses a lot on teamwork and on the human side.”
Explaining how he managed to convince Quintana to leave his long-term squad for new pastures, Hubert said: “Of course, Movistar played an important role in Nairo’s career. It is not easy to make the decision to leave a team with which things worked well but I think Quintana’s desire to leave Movistar was well established. He wanted to find new air and a team that had new proposals and challenges.”
And what does Hubert hope to achieve with Quintana now in his squad? The Frenchman doesn’t believe a Tour de France victory is beyond the Colombian.
“A coupling with his new surroundings is needed,” Hubert said. “but after doing excellent preparation and if the conditions are in your favour, you can become the winner of the Tour.”
Alongside the signing of Nairo Quintana, fellow Colombians Winner Anacona and brother Dáyer Quintana will also move across from Movistar, as will Diego Rosa from Ineos.