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UTRECHT, Netherlands (VN) – One team was conspicuously already a rider short in the Vuelta a España stage 1 TTT around Utrecht: Arkéa-Samsic.
On Wednesday, the UCI announced the retrospective disqualification of sixth place finisher Nairo Quintana from the 2022 Tour de France after two blood samples showed traces of the opioid painkiller tramadol.
The substance is banned by the UCI and not by WADA. While technically clear to race the Vuelta, within 24 hours, Quintana announced in a statement he would pull out of the race to prepare his defense in front of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Also read: Quintana denies tramadol use
Asked by VeloNews for his initial reaction to the Quintana news after the TTT, their sport director Sébastien Hinault replied: “For now, there is not much more to say because we’re not totally at the bottom of the issue yet. We’re waiting for it to become clear before making a judgement.”
And do they know the provenance of the tramadol, whether it was personal or not? “No idea, no idea,” Hinault said.
As VeloNews started to ask another question, Hinault ended the interview. He and the Arkéa-Samsic press officer indicated that they have no further comment to make following the press release put out Thursday.
Evidently, the French squad wish to focus on sport at the Vuelta a España. One thing is for sure on that front: Quintana’s absence means a big change of plan.
“It’s clear we’ll aim for stages rather than the GC,” Hinault said. “We have guys who are capable of winning a stage, whether it’s [sprinter] Dan McLay or Elie Gesbert. All seven riders here can do it, if they’re opportunist.”