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VN ticker: Quintana rumored to be retiring, Evenepoel criticizes ‘dangerous’ San Juan finale

Here's the news making the headlines on Monday, January 23.

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Nairo Quintana rumored to be retiring

Is Nairo Quintana on the brink of retirement?

Reports out of Colombian media suggest so.

Colombian outlet Ciclismo en Grande states Quintana will officially confirm his retirement next Wednesday.

The 32-year-old is hunting a contract for 2023 after his high-profile exit from team Arkéa Samsic this summer. Quintana tested positive for traces of tramadol and subsequently saw his sixth-place at last summer’s Tour de France annulled and his contract with the French team terminated.

The former Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España champion has been seeking a new contract since.

Quintana was recently linked to the Italian second-tier Corratec team only for team officials to bat back the rumors on both financial grounds and due to its membership of the MPCC.

Ciclismo en Grande reports Quintana will host a press conference next Wednesday to confirm his 14-year career has come to an end.

Stay tuned …

Remco Evenepoel criticizes ‘dangerous’ San Juan finale

Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) said he almost collided with a spectator in what he called a “hectic and dangerous” finish to the opening stage of the Vuelta a San Juan.

Bora-Hansgrohe’s Sam Bennett took the stage victory ahead of Evenepoel’s teammate Michael Mørkøv, while sprinter Fabio Jakobsen lost his leadout and finished way back in the pack.

The complications seemed to begin just outside the final kilometer with the peloton splitting at an unmarked traffic island with spectators standing on it. Soudal Quick-Step was among those that ended up on the wrong side of the road and only Mørkøv made it through to contest the sprint.

“It was hectic and dangerous. I almost hit a woman, I think,” Evenepoel told Sporza afterward. “As Michael Morkov said: it should not be allowed that there is still such an open stretch at 1.2 kilometers from the finish where you do not know where to drive and where people are still crossing.”

Evenepoel could be seen speaking with the race organizers after the stage.

“I wanted to know if everyone would get the same time because it was a weird situation,” he said. “I was not panicked, but I was shocked by the crossing people.

“A lead-out is without thinking, clearing your mind and accelerating. I was a bit upset and I wanted to ask if everything was OK. Lessons should be learned from this.”

Brandon McNulty debuts 2023 in Mallorca

Brandon McNulty boots into race mode with a season debut at the Challenge Mallorca.

The U.S. talent will race Trofeo Calvia, Trofeo Port d’Andratx, Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana, and Trofeo Palma from January 25-29. McNulty also made his season debut in Calvia last season and promptly scored a 60km solo victory.

Tim Wellens, Matteo Trentin, and Joao Almeida are among other headline names for a stacked UAE Emirates squad heading to the Spanish island this week.

“It’s been a very positive off-season and the guys are ready and motivated to race,” said team director Joxean Matxin Fernandez.

“In the squad for Mallorca we have proven winners – McNulty and Wellens both won here last year and other riders in our team are more than capable of taking big results here too this week.

“It’s early in the season still but as always we are focused to be aggressive from the beginning and aim to get some wins on the board as soon as possible.”

Mathieu van der Poel adds Besançon World Cup to CX calendar

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) will race one more time before he takes aim at the cyclocross world championships.

The Dutchman has added the Besançon World Cup this Sunday to his program, deciding to skip the Hamme X20 Trofee on Saturday. Van der Poel already had this weekend penciled into his schedule but had not decided where he would race until now.

Van der Poel has been battling with his long-time rival Wout van Aert throughout this CX season, with the pair trading wins. After two defeats in a row, Van der Poel bested Van Aert in Benidorm at the weekend, outkicking him in a sprint to the line.

The cyclocross world championships will take place on Sunday, February 5 in Hoogerheide.