Nairo Quintana’s lost his appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport regarding his two tests for Tramadol and the Tour de France disqualification. The transfer market’s been busy of late but his agent’s not finding it easy to place him with a new team.
On the specifics he lost because the hearing was satisfied with the testing procedures in place and said the UCI had the agency to sanction him as the screengrab above from the verdict shows. And that was that. It’s not just hindsight to say he had a difficult case because it always looked that way, especially as he returned two positive tests from separate days. It’s not the end of the matter, there ought to questions of how the opioid got there but since Quintana says he doesn’t know we probably won’t get answers. He hasn’t exhausted the appeal process, there’s always a civil court in Switzerland but here he’d have to prove the arbitration wasn’t fair, that some just part of the procedure was denied to him. In 2024 Tramadol goes on WADA’s banned list.
Nairoman no es un ciclista: Quintana’s now out of work. Remarkably the Arkéa-Samsic team had announced he’d renewed a contract because they’d reached an agreement… but they had yet to sign the deal so once the team got news of the tramadol test, they pulled the contract. It’s not obvious where he’d sign either, it’s mean to say but Quintana is now damaged goods despite being hugely popular in Colombia and probably sans tramadol still capable of a solid top-10 in the Tour de France. Astana were said to be interested before but not this time according to this morning’s L’Equipe (although the same newspaper said a French World Tour team were interested and that’s been shot down). Now he’d come much cheaper, perhaps a second tier team could hire him. This is not a doping infringement so an MPCC-member team could sign him but you’d imagine he’s not exactly going to be flavour of the month when ASO come to awarding wildcards for the Tour or the Vuelta either.
Vine harvest: UAE Emirates are another team to have said no to Quintana’s agent. Still they have been busy in the transfer market and announced the signing of Jay Vine yesterday. It’s a good deal all around with the Australian getting out of what was apparently a minimum wage contract to earn what a grand tour stage winner should be getting. But looked at from the other angle this doesn’t make the team’s recruitment easy to understand. They’ve hired Michael Vink who was thriving on their sponsor’s online riding platform. Now Vine’s a great rider but the sort who can ride away on the mountain stage for the win when they’ve got riders like Tadej Pogačar, João Almeida, Juan Ayuso and Adam Yates who will prefer to have support next to them. Again not to knock Vine who climbs so well he can try to take on this role but it’s not his thing yet. Plus it’s also a real loss for Alpecin-Deceuninck who lose a star climber on a team of sprinters, he gave them range.
Sonner le glaz? The transfer market’s not closed yet and the relegation of Israel and Lotto-Soudal could see moves if any riders exercise break clauses. The big piece left in the transfer market is Mark Cavendish. By now you’ll know that he was linked to the B&B team but this squad has yet to announce the new sponsor. Is there a new sponsor? And if so, how much are they going to put in as this could be the new sticking point. Hotel company B&B is staying for a year but the team’s cut its funding links to the Brittany region as it explores a new Parisian identity and so its survival could be at stake if there’s no additional sponsor or the amount incoming is insufficient. Behind the scenes the UCI application process requires the team to submit 10 rider contracts by 15 October for audit, by 1 November it’s 15 contracts and 20 by 1 December, and these outgoings need to match the signed incoming sponsorship deals. There was talk of a women’s team as well as part of the new project and this could be on the block too.
Celestial moves: moving only a little along the pantone chart, having wondered aloud about how many teams Canyon could sponsor next year, Arkéa-Samsic are switching to Bianchi and their celeste frames. Sure Bianchi seems as Italian as Ferrari or focaccia but it’s actually owned by Swedish company Cycleurope which, as the screengrab above shows, also owns brands like Puch, Gitane and Peugeot. Plus while the Bianchi frames can be achingly beautiful if the celeste is the right tone, it’s not secret to say out loud that Jumbo-Visma and then BikeExchange were happy to move to Cervelo and Giant respectively although to be fair Bianchi’s updated its range since.
Vinge-guarded: the Tour winner’s in Japan for the Saitama exhibition criterium this weekend. He has been like a submarine who’s slipped from sight with barely an appearance since or a media interview which is confounding given those scenes in Copenhagen and the usual way a Tour winner becomes hot property. Sure he won a stage of the CRO Race and did Lombardia and spoke on the margins of the Singapore criterium last week and is in Saitama this weekend… but he’s yet to sit down for a proper interview. Should he? For him so far it’s just not been a priority, plus he’s spoken about stress and anxiety before. But the more he doesn’t, the more him not giving interviews becomes a story… like this paragraph.
Chance encounter: finally, to riders who did get pushed around for the media. The Saitama criterium often features cosplay stunts on the eve of the race. In 2013 Chris Froome, Marcel Kittel and others were bussed to a local school that has a strong sumo club, and dressed in cycling shorts with a mawashi loincloth on top, had to do drills with the teenage wrestlers. As it happens one of the kids who was pushing around Chris Froome that day was a teenage Taakanobu Satō (just behind Froome) who since become a professional sumo wrestler with the name Takakeishō, and won the Emperor’s Cup, the biggest prize in sumo, twice.