Nairo Quintana is expected to stay with the Movistar team and respect his contract for 2018 and 2019, despite continued reports of tension with the Spanish team and suggestions by La Gazzetta dello Sport that Astana could be ready to spend €6 million to secure his services.
According to the Italian sports newspaper, Quintana is "on the market" after a falling out with Movistar and team manager Eusebio Unzue. La Gazzetta dello Sport suggests that Quintana was angry that the team did not allow him to return to Colombia between the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, while the Movistar was against Quintana's decision to target the Giro-Tour double this season.
La Gazzetta claims that Quintana's agent Giuseppe Acquadro contacted the Trek-Segafredo and Astana teams to offer Quintana's services. The US-registered Trek apparently baulked at the €6 million asking price that includes Quintana's contract and the transfer fee needed to satisfy Movistar, but Astana reportedly showed interest as it looks at a possible replacement for Fabio Aru, who has been linked to Trek-Segafredo and especially UAE-Team Emirates.
The full page story in La Gazzetta fuelled speculation that several WorldTour teams are scrambling to secure a leader and contender for the Tour de France. However the reports of Quintana leaving Movistar appear to off the mark and Cyclingnews understands that Quintana will stay with his current team.
La Gazzetta claims that any deal must be done before Monday, citing a UCI transfer deadline. However the UCI rules clearly state that the August 15 deadline is for rider transfers during the season. The transfer window between two seasons ends on December 31.
The Movistar team did not answer calls from Cyclingnews on Thursday, but on Wednesday Acquadro told Cyclingnews that despite some misunderstandings, Quintana will stay at Movistar and respect his contract for 2018 and 2019.
Quintana is back in Colombia after finishing a disappointing 12th at the Tour de France and is preparing for the final races of the season. He attended an event at the Movistar offices in Colombia on Wednesday, another sign that the huge telecommunications company sees him as a vital part of its marketing strategy.
Quintana is expected to focus solely on the Tour de France in 2018, with Mikel Landa - expected to arrive from Team Sky - leading the Movistar team at the Giro d'Italia and perhaps the Vuelta a Espana. Quintana is due to travel to Kazakhstan this weekend to ride the Astana Expo 2017 criterium alongside Chris Froome, Landa and Aru.