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Arkéa-Samsic chief: ‘The Nairo Quintana page is turned’

Team manager Emmanuel Hubert washes hands of 'Quintana affair,' turns attention to rebuilding for WorldTour future.

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Arkéa-Samsic is looking to push past the “Nairo Quintana affair” and refocus on its future in the WorldTour.

Team manager Emmanuel Hubert told Le Télégramme he’s broken clear of the calamitous few months that besieged his Breton crew this summer after Quintana tested positive for tramadol, lost a stack of UCI points, and put Arkéa’s push for WorldTour status in peril.

“It was a big blow to the head. On the day of the announcement, I was faced with a fait accompli. I asked him for an explanation. I was very upset and assured that he had taken nothing. Since then, he has defended himself before CAS, and he has the right to the presumption of innocence,” Hubert said Friday.

“Now it’s his problem. We’re no longer contractually bound. The Quintana page is turned.”

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Quintana was cut loose from a freshly renewed contract with Arkéa-Samsic after the UCI unearthed samples taken from the 2022 Tour that tested positive for the banned opioid painkiller tramadol.

Quintana’s lawyers laid out their defense against the UCI in a hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) earlier this month, but without a contract and approaching his 33rd birthday, the Colombian’s future hangs in the balance.

But that’s no longer Arkéa’s concern now that Quintana has fulfilled his mission.

The Colombian helped haul the Breton outfit toward the WorldTour during his three seasons with the team, scoring UCI points that inched the ProTeam squad above the cut-off line for a top-tier license in 2023.

“The Arkéa-Samsic team holds its ticket for the WorldTour. Sportingly, we are eligible and financially too. We must now meet the administrative and organizational specifications of the first division,” Hubert said this week.

“It’s still a lot of work, Arkéa-Samsic has 102 employees. But I am confident. The licenses should be issued around December 10.”

No Bardet, no Martin, as Arkéa counts on youth

Arkéa-Samsic hunted after Bardet before he renewed with DSM.

With Quintana gone, Arkéa-Samsic is left with a GC leadership vacuum just as it heads toward the top echelon of the sport.

Hubert told Le Telegramme he had tried discussions with national stars Romain Bardet and Guillaume Martin, but both chose to stick with their current DSM and Cofidis teams.

Instead, “WorldTour-edition” Arkéa will count on currently rostered Frenchmen Warren Barguil and Nacer Bouhanni, as well as new arrivals Clément Champoussin and David Dekker. A bunch of young stagiaires and home-grown talents will learn the ropes as Hubert looks to the long term.

“The future now belongs to the riders we have trained, we make way for the new generation,” Hubert said.

That “new generation” doesn’t include the 32-year-old Quintana, who is holding hope for a quick resolution to his legal case and a final-hour deal for the new year.