Nairo Quintana confirms Arkéa-Samsic exit as tramadol appeal rumbles onward

Colombian climber continues to refute tramadol charges: 'I am confident because I am honorable and honest. I have not done anything wrong.'

Photo: MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP via Getty Images

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Nairo Quintana confirmed Friday he won’t be racing for Arkéa-Samsic in 2023 after all.

The Colombian climber had been booked in with his French team through 2025 but saw things turn south in the wake of his high-profile ban for tramadol.

“I will not continue with the Arkéa-Samsic team as we announced in August,” Quintana said in a social media video. “Let’s keep pedaling forward and then discuss what’s in my future. I want to continue showing the rider that I am, what I am made of, and what I can do.”

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Quintana was retrospectively disqualified from this summer’s Tour de France after two blood samples during the race tested positive for tramadol.

The opiate painkiller was banned by the UCI in 2019 and has since been banned by WADA.

The 32-year-old strongly refuted the charges and vowed to take a legal case to CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The Arkéa-Samsic climber captain promptly pulled out of the Vuelta a España ahead of time to prepare his defense and hasn’t raced in the team’s red jersey since.

He confirmed Friday health issues will prevent him racing again this season.

“I thank the team in which we were able to have many races, some that we won others that we lost. We had ups and downs, but I was able to give all my experience and learning to a great team,” he said Friday.

“I was able to get the points to take the team to the WorldTour, fulfilling what was promised when I was hired, and hopefully next year the team will be racing in the WorldTour peloton.”

Quintana joined Arkéa-Samsic from Movistar in 2020 and rapidly became the center of the team’s ambitions.

The former Vuelta a España and Giro d’Italia champion brought his second-division squad a total of 11 victories and finished up sixth behind Jonas Vingegaard in the 2022 Tour de France.

Arkéa-Samsic later confirmed the split in a short statement Saturday.

“Nairo Quintana announced the end of his collaboration with the Arkéa-Samsic team that started in 2020. Arkéa-Samsic confirms the non-renewal of Nairo’s contract for 2023. The Breton team will not comment further on this,” read a team message.

WorldTour points and legal cases

Quintana’s tramadol case could ripple through to Arkéa-Samsic for years to come.

The UCI remains optimistic its case against the Colombian will survive any appeal, in which case, Quintana and his team will remain stripped of the huge haul of UCI points earned for his sixth-place finish at the Tour.

Arkéa-Samsic is on the periphery of the battle for WorldTour promotion and relegation. It currently sits level on points with Cofidis after the removal of Quintana’s tally from the Tour de France.

Although Arkéa currently sits a fair few inches into the so-called “safe zone” that assures future WorldTour racing, any dramatic swing in fortune could keep it in the second division through 2025.

In the meantime, Quintana vowed to continue pushing his case to CAS.

“As you know, I have presented my defense before CAS, we continue to work with my group of lawyers and I am confident because I am honorable and honest,” he said.

“I have not done anything wrong, nothing illegal and that is why I want to defend myself and have reached this stage. I want to give good news especially to my country, and I want to thank you for all the support”.

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