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Unzue confirms that Carapaz and Quintana are leaving Movistar

Movistar manager Eusebio Unzue has indicated that it is highly likely that his two South American Grand Tour winners, Richard Carapaz and Nairo Quintana, will be leaving the team at the end of 2019.

As previously reported in Cyclingnews, Spanish daily AS quoted Unzue as telling radio station Cadena Ser: "It's true that it seems that Richard and Nairo [leaving] is a reality."

Cyclingnews understands that Carapaz has signed a three-year deal with Team Ineos, whilst Quintana has been repeatedly linked over the past few months with Arkea-Samsic for 2020.

Contrary to numerous reports, Unzue remained convinced that Mikel Landa, said to be heading for Bahrain-Merida, might yet stay with the Movistar in 2020. He refused to confirm whether the team has signed Enric Mas (Deceuninck-QuickStep), who was second at the 2018 Vuelta a España, for next season, although he did admit that the Mallorca-born rider could be of interest to his team.

"I can't answer if Enric Mas will race with us next year. Like a lot of teams, we'd like to have him on our squad," Unzue told Cadena Ser. "There are only a few days left until teams can confirm where some riders are racing next year, and then we'll know. He's got an offer; I hope he makes the right choice."

Looking at his team's overall situation at this year's Tour de France, Unzue argued to Cadena Ser that "Mikel [Landa] started well and, following the crash, he's managed to straighten things out".

"After what we saw on the Tourmalet [on Saturday] and on Sunday, he'll hope to go into the Alps prepared to be in the thick of the action, and with the support of Alejandro Valverde," he added.

Landa is currently seventh overall and Unzue confirmed that the Basque will be aiming at the podium in Paris rather than stage wins. Valverde's main objective for the rest of the third week will be to go for stage wins, but Unzue was less upbeat concerning Quintana.

"It's true that Nairo – who's given us so many days of glory, and I'm not ruling out that some might still be to come – has not been performing at the great level he used to have in these last two years. You could see that in the Pyrenees."

Rather than co-leader status, Unzue confirmed the demotion of Quintana for what remains of the 2019 Tour de France – something the Colombian has already done himself – by saying: "We'll have to change that double leadership we had with him and Mikel to concentrate solely on Mikel, and that way we'll make the most of everybody's potential."

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Alasdair Fotheringham
Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.