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Arkea-Samsic won’t be just backing Nairo Quintana at Tour de France

Barguil will have his chances as French squad outlines priorities in racing revival.

Nairo Quintana will be a protected rider at Arkéa-Samsic, but he won’t be the only captain at the Tour de France.

Last year, Quintana left Movistar in a high-profile transfer in large part because he felt he wasn’t given enough support at the Spanish team’s sometimes controversial three-pronged approach. Despite a strong spring season to open the disrupted 2020 calendar, team management confirmed that the Colombian will be sharing leadership duties with French climber Warren Barguil during the rescheduled Tour, set for August 29 to September 20.

“Our two leaders will complement each other,” Arkéa-Samsic manager Emmanuel Hubert said Monday. “They can lean on each by racing together at the front. After that, sport will decide. We will start the Tour with high ambitions of our two leaders.”

The confirmation that the team will race the Tour with Barguil and Quintana as co-captains certainly won’t come as a surprise to the Colombian, but it’s the first glimpse that the team has larger ambitions to try to race at the WorldTour level in the coming years, and won’t be putting all of its racing eggs in the Quintana basket.

“Nairo wants to be on the podium, and he’s said it several times,” Hubert said. “Warren also has very high ambitions for the Tour.”

Hubert outlined the pair’s racing schedule as the peloton starts to come out of its coronavirus doldrums. Barguil will return to racing at the Tour d’Occitanie (August 1-4) and Quintana will race the Tour de l’Ain (August 7-9). The pair will link up at the shortened Critérium du Dauphiné (August 12-16) before starting the Tour, in Nice, France.

“Our desire is to win the Europe Tour classification,” Hubert said. “Having our leaders [at different] races is a way for us to multiply our chances of scoring points for the classification that will open the doors to all the WorldTour races in 2021.”

While not at the same consistently high level as three-time Tour podium finisher Quintana, French climber Barguil, 28, has twice finished in the top-10 at the Tour. In 2017, he won two stages and the best climber’s jersey. Like Quintana, Barguil posted some strong results this spring before the coronavirus put the brakes on racing.

The Dauphiné should provide a preview of how well they will work together ahead of the Tour. With the French second-division team betting everything on the European calendar classification, the Tour will be paramount to the team’s ambitions because it won’t be racing the Giro d’Italia or Vuelta a España.