Nairo Quintana has confirmed his departure from the Movistar team at the end of the season. Although he stopped short of announcing Arkea-Samsic as his new destination, he said in an interview with Colombian radio station BLU Radio that he wants a team where he has '100 per cent support'.
Quintana turned pro with Movistar in 2012 but the relationship has become increasingly strained in the past couple of years. There was debate over his race programme in 2017 and then team leadership in the past two seasons.
At the recent Tour de France, there was a seemingly total breakdown in communication that saw he and teammates Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde effectively racing against each other. Quintana, who finished on the podium in Paris three times between 2013 and 2016, placed eighth overall, although that was mitigated by a stage win the in the Alps.
Cyclingnews reported during the Tour de France that Quintana would join French Pro Continental team Arkea-Samsic on a three-year deal, with Quintana's father seemingly confirming the move later in the race. Quintana himself has been guarded but did open up about his departure in the BLU Radio interview.
“That’s the idea – to be able to find a team where I feel at home, where I’m happy, and where they can support me 100 per cent… where I feel myself and where I can shine as bright or even brighter than ever,” he said.
As for Movistar: “It was period that was very good for me. I arrived very young, they took me from a Colombian team and taught me a lot, and supported me. That cycle is now over, by mutual agreement - although we still have the rest of the year to complete – and I will always have total gratitude to the sponsor.”
Quintana insisted there were "no problems" inside the team at the Tour de France, adding: “We move on to the next races, together.”
The next outing will be the Vuelta a España, although Quintana hinted at that familiar leadership issue rearing its head again. Giro d’Italia winner Richard Carapaz and world champion Alejandro Valverde will both be at the Spanish Grand Tour, along with young Spaniard Marc Soler, and Quintana says the team considers them all leaders.
“I’m preparing for the race, and feel like I’m in good shape. There’ll certainly be rivals who come into it fresh, having only done the Giro, but I’m feeling good and hope to do well," he said.
“We have to wait and see what the orders from the team will be, because we’ll be there with Valverde, Carapaz, and Marc Soler, and the team considers us all leaders. So it will be a case of what the team wants.”