Nairo Quintana close to extending with Arkéa-Samsic, targeting GC at Vuelta a España

Colombian star hoping former team Movistar isn't relegated as Arkéa-Samsic seems poised to climb into WorldTour in 2023.

Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

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Nairo Quintana is feeling whole again following his best Tour de France performance in years.

Though he ceded a few spots in the closing days to arrive to Paris in sixth, the Colombian veteran was within sniffing distance of the final podium for the first time in years. In an interview this week with AS, the Arkéa-Samsic rider said he believes he can stay with the likes of Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard despite being nearly a decade older.

“It’s obvious there are young riders coming up and you have to respect that, but we are there to keep trying at least for the podium,” Quintana said. “And if you’re close, anything can happen.”

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Following double knee surgery in 2020, Quintana enjoyed his best Tour in a few seasons, and was among the best on key stages at the Col du Granon, but he later suffered in the Pyrénées, and slipped from fourth to sixth. Still, that’s his best Tour since he was eighth in 2019.

Quintana, 32, also said he is close to signing an extension to stay with the French outfit Arkéa-Samsic, which he joined in 2020 following eight seasons with Movistar.

“I am close to signing with them,” he said. “The team keeps getting better and they respect and they want me. They listen to my opinions, and we want to continue if the option is there.

“This team keeps getting better,” Quintana said. “This year we’ve been in the top-10 in all the main races, and that means that I’m still there and can fight against the young riders. We keep working and trying. Cycling isn’t just the Tour, and there are a lot of other races and we’ve been close.”

Quintana will race next at the Vuelta a España for the first time since 2019 when he was fourth overall.

“The objective is the GC once again,” Quintana said. “We have strong riders on the team to take on these three weeks. The team time trial isn’t our strong point, but we will try to limit the losses. The other time trial in the middle of the race isn’t that long and I think it can be OK for me. The mountain stages, especially the 10 summit finales, are very good for me.”

Colombian star hoping Movistar isn’t relegated

Quintana has found a new home at the French team. (Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Quintana also hoped his former Movistar team remains in the WorldTour. The Spanish team is struggling near the bottom of the team rankings, and could risk relegation to the second tier if the team doesn’t begin to acquire a lot of points very fast.

“It’s a difficult situation, and it’s not good for anyone that a team with so much history can lose its license like this,” he said. “Everyone’s hoping Valverde can earn enough points during the Vuelta to save the team. But that’s life, some climb, and others fall, and there are periods of shining, and others when all you can do is work to avoid the worse. I hope for the best for them and that the team is not in the second division for the next three years.”

Quintana’s Arkéa-Samsic team, currently a second-tier team, is ranked in the middle of the UCI team rankings, and is expected to jump to the WorldTour in 2023.

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