Nairo Quintana has announced that he is leaving Arkéa Samsic in a video posted to his Instagram. This comes amid his ongoing battle over testing positive for Tramadol at the Tour de France, a story which broke just days after the news that he’d extended his contract with the French team.
In the meantime, he continues to to assert: “I’ve never used [Tramadol] in my career.”
“I want to thank the team for these three seasons where we were able to have many races. We won some and lost some,” Quintana said. “I was able to give all my experience and knowledge to a great team. In addition, I was able to get the points to take the team to the WorldTour, fulfilling what was promised when they hired me.”
Quintana made the surprise step down from Movistar to Arkéa Samsic for the 2020 season, choosing the second division team to guarantee leadership in the biggest European races, and helping them work towards promotion to the sport’s top level.
As things stand, Arkéa is set to progress to WorldTour for 2023, but it remains to be seen how the squad will adapt in Quintana’s absence. Team manager Emmanuel Hubert has come out and said that the deal settled in August was just a verbal agreement, but it’s hard to imagine a WorldTour plan without the Colombian stage racer as the fulcrum on which the team depends.
“I want to announce that I will not continue with Arkéa-Samsic next season, despite the message of August 16,” Quintana said. “I will continue to cycle and soon I will let you know more about my future.”
At this relatively late stage in the season, both Quintana and the team he leaves behind will have fewer options available to them on the transfer market. That said, Arkéa already seems to be hedging their bets a little, or at the very least holding back on their transfer announcements. At this point, the team has just 15 riders under contract for 2023, including Vuelta stage winner Clément Champoussin on a one-year deal from AG2R-Citroën.
But more pressing and with just three months left of 2022, Quintana continues to fight the Tramadol case which saw him stripped of sixth overall at the Tour de France, his best finish since 2016, and a last-minute withdrawal from the Vuelta a España.
“I have presented my defence before CAS,” Quintana said of his Tramadol case. “We continue to work with my group of lawyers and I’m confident because I am honourable and honest.
“I haven’t done anything wrong or illegal and that is why I want to defend myself. I want to give good news, especially to my country, and I want to thank you for all the support.”
The team did not immediately comment, but on Saturday morning, they put out a statement confirming what Quintana had put out the night before.
“Nairo Quintana has announced the end of his collaboration with the team Arkéa-Samsic which began in 2020,” reads the statement. “The Arkéa-Samsic team confirms that Nairo Quintana’s contract with the team will not be renewed in 2023. The Breton team will not comment further on the matter.”
At the end of the video, Quintana – who appeared for Colombia at the road World Championships in Wollongong last weekend – added that he would not race again in 2022 due to health problems.