Nairo Quintana is taking a gamble but believes his name and experience can help promote Arkéa-Samsic to the top WorldTour races including the Tour de France.
Colombian Quintana, winner of the 2014 Giro d’Italia, placed second overall in the Tour de France twice and has won three stages in his career so far.
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This winter, he is stepping down from Movistar to the French team in the Professional Continental ranks. Arkéa will have to ask for and receive wildcard invitations to ride the Tour de France.
“We hope to pick up invitations to as many Classics and tours as possible,” Quintana told the AFP. “I want to win every race we enter, starting with Paris-Nice.”
Quintana placed second overall in the 2019 Paris-Nice to Egan Bernal (Team Ineos), who went on to become the first Colombian to win the Tour and the youngest in the modern era.
With the help of new team-mate Warren Barguil, Quintana is also returning to the Ardennes Classics after five years. His schedule for April includes Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. His presence in the last two will certainly help the team when asking for a Tour invitation from ASO, which organises Flèche Wallonne and Liège.
The 2020 Tour de France invitations are due out in February, with the 20 WorldTour teams taking guaranteed spots and two free spots up for grabs. Arkéa-Samsic is in the running with Teams Vital Concept-B & B Hotels and Wanty-Gobert.
Earlier this year, the UCI have announced that French team Cofidis, Solutions Credits will make the step up to WorldTour from the Professional Continental division, while Total-Direct Energie and Wanty Gobert-Tormans will be invited to ride all Grand Tours and other top-ranked events, with no mention of Arkéa.
“In all modesty, I think my name and my experience can allow Arkéa-Samsic to one day access to the WorldTour [and a Tour de France invitation]. Frankly, I hope to race again next year in the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España,” Quintana said.
“The Arkéa-Samsic team has recruited for it and Warren Barguil is still there. I think the team has nothing to envy to the bigger ones.”
The Tour is a mountainous one for 2020, already with a mountain stage on day two. The final time trial has a twist, too, heading uphill at Planche des Belles Filles.
“The Tour route looks good,” added Quintana, “especially with that uphill time-trial at the end, it’s in a place I know well.”