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Unzué has been reluctant to speak about the rumored departures until the official August 1 trading window for WorldTour teams, but everyone knows that backroom deals are hashed out weeks and months before. Speaking to Spanish radio overnight, Unzué also said the team is hoping to keep Mikel Landa and sign Enric Mas for the coming season.
“It appears that it’s true about Carapaz and Quintana,” Unzué told Cadena Ser. “Of course we’d like to continue with Mikel. Right now I cannot guarantee anything. Concerning Enric Mas, we’re not the only ones interested, so let’s hope that he makes the right choice.”
Rumors have been flying for weeks about Quintana joining French outfit Arkea-Samsic. The multi-year deal would also include the Colombian star bringing his brother, Dayer, and some key teammates, including Winner Anacona.
Carapaz, who electrified the peloton with his stunning Giro d’Italia victory in May, is said to be heading to Team Ineos.
Landa, meanwhile, has been linked to Bahrain-Merida, who is losing Vincenzo Nibali to Trek-Segafredo. Movistar, however, has been trying to convince the Basque climber to stay on the team, especially in light of the departures of Quintana and Carapaz. Mas, one of the most highly touted young Spanish prospects, has also been linked to Movistar.
Unzué’s comments come just as Movistar confirmed contract extensions with seven riders on Monday, including Andrey Amador, Jorge Arcas, Héctor Carretero, Lluís Mas, Nelson Oliveira, Antonio Pedrero, and José Joaquín Rojas, through the end of 2021. Reigning world champion Alejandro Valverde also recently signed a contract to race through the end of 2021, and then continue with the team in an unspecified role through 2024.
The imminent departures of Quintana and Carapaz, however, will leave a big hole in the team’s GC ambitions. Though he’s struggled of late, Quintana has won two grand tours — the 2014 Giro and the 2016 Vuelta a España — and has also reached the Tour de France podium on three occasions. Arkea-Samsic is said to be making a bid for a WorldTour license, and believes that the presence of Quintana will bolster its expansion plans.
Perhaps an even harder loss for Unzué is Carapaz’s departure to Team Ineos. Movistar helped develop the talented Ecuadorian, but rumors suggested a fallout over money. Ineos, with the deepest pockets in the peloton, will likely slot the climber into leadership roles at the Giro and Vuelta as well as develop him for a co-starring role at the Tour in the coming seasons.