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The Nairo Quintana contract saga will keep playing through the weekend after two more teams beat back speculation they were interested in the Colombian climber.
The 32-year-old revealed last weekend he found a new home with a mystically unnamed top-tier team for 2023. Quintana was recently booted from Arkéa-Samsic due to testing positive for tramadol, an opioid pain killer banned by WADA.
With Quintana keeping quiet about the identity of his new squad, the rumor mill set churning.
Team officials at both Bahrain Victorious and Astana Qazaqstan were quick to refute interest in the Colombian. Hints at a return to Movistar were made complicated by the team already having maxed out the 30-rider roster limit permitted by the UCI.
Further reports this week turned attention toward EF Education-EasyPost and Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert.
“First I’ve heard of this. Might be tricky considering our roster is full,” EF team boss Jonathan Vaughters wrote on Twitter.
Aike Visbeek, performance director at Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert, joked off the rumor.
“Am barely recovered from calming things down around Christiano’s proposed arrival, and now we have Nairo,” he quipped, referring to soccer megastar Ronaldo.
Quintana: ‘We do know, but we still have to be calm’
Quintana continued to stoke the contract speculation Wednesday at the launch of a new coffee and clothing shop in Bogota, Colombia.
The former Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España champion reconfirmed he has a new team for next year, but reportedly failed to clarify if it had WorldTour status.
“We do know, but we still have to be calm. Later on we will make known the decisions we have made and what will happen in the future,” he told AS.
Quintana’s poker play continued as he discussed his former Arkéa-Samsic team, which is set to step up to the WorldTour next year.
“Everyone takes their own path and I predict many successes in the next competitions,” Quintana said of the French squad. “I’m sure we’ll find ourselves now as rivals and fighting in the next races.”