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Nairo Quintana, still unable to find a top pro team to join this season, vowed Wednesday he is not retiring from elite road racing.
The 32-year-old Colombian used a press conference Wednesday to shoot down rumors that he was retiring.
“I am not quitting. I am going forward,” Quintana said defiantly. “I am in very good form. I am going to keep fighting to race. I am an honest rider who followed the rules.”
Quintana said he is still holding out for a top-level team and said he’s so far refused offers from third-tier Colombian teams.
“I am thankful for the offers from various Colombian teams, but my objective right now is to still carry the flag of my country in the most important races in the world,” Quintana said.
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“Even though I still do not have a team, I am available,” Quintana said Wednesday. “I want to compete again, to put on a number.
“A true cyclist does not give up in the face of adversity,” he said. “I have overcome many difficulties, I have always responded to all questions and incorrect statements.”
Quintana, a winner of the Vuelta a España and the Giro d’Italia, saw door after door shut on him following his high-profile tramadol case during the 2022 Tour de France.
On Wednesday, he said he’s still talking to teams with the hopes of racing in Europe in 2023.
Quintana’s problems began last summer after the Tour de France when the UCI confirmed that tramadol was found in two samples taken during the race.
The powerful painkiller will not be on the WADA list of prohibitive substances until 2024, but it is currently banned during competition by the UCI.
After testing positive twice for traces of tramadol, Quintana saw his results from the 2022 Tour erased. He was not otherwise sanctioned and is free to compete.
Quintana denied taking tramadol and later lost an appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
His Arkéa-Samsic team voided a three-year contract extension in the wake of the UCI allegations.
Teams seem hesitant to sign him despite Quintana hinting on a few occasions that he found a team for this season and would be racing in Europe.
On Wednesday, Quintana vowed to continue to try to find a team for 2023.