In a stunning turn of events, Nairo Quintana marks his return to professional cycling, rejoining his former squad, Movistar, on a one-year contract following a year-long sabbatical from the sport. The Colombian cyclist found himself without a team after a positive test for Tramadol during the 2022 Tour de France, a substance prohibited by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).
However, it was not listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) banned substances list at that time. At 33 years of age, Quintana is making his way back to the peloton, reuniting with Movistar, where he spent the pinnacle of his career.
His last three years in professional cycling were with Arkéa-Samsic, but his disqualification from the Tour—where he secured a sixth-place finish, his best Grand Tour result since his Movistar days—led to his departure from the French team.
Quintana's most glorious moments in cycling came with Movistar, where he claimed victories in both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España. He also had a remarkable rivalry with Chris Froome in the Tour de France, finishing as the runner-up twice.
This return to the Spanish team is undeniably filled with sentimental value for the South American cycling legend.
Quintana's Emotional Comeback
Reflecting on his return, Quintana expressed in a press release, "It's super emotional for me to be back home.
After such a challenging year, this opportunity means the world to me. Despite the tough days, I persevered, relentless in my training, whether under the pouring rain or the blistering sun. I am determined not to let this chance slip away.
I am well-versed in the team's values and the ethos of the sport. I am ready to give my all, help secure outstanding results, and make the team and our fans proud. This moment is a dream come true." Quintana's re-entry into Movistar was celebrated in a social media post by the team, showcasing a montage of his finest moments with them.
This marks his eighth signing in this transfer window, following the arrivals of other notable cyclists. Despite the challenges, Quintana remained in Europe to train throughout 2023, hopeful for a contract in 2024. His return is not just a personal victory but is seen as a significant moment for Latin American cycling, where he stands as a prominent figure.
His early successes in the 2010s were crucial in putting Colombia on the cycling world map, alongside other greats like Rigoberto Urán, Esteban Chavez, Fernando Gaviria, and Egan Bernal—the first-ever Latin American winner of the Tour de France.
Meanwhile, WADA is gearing up to enforce a sport-wide ban on Tramadol, aiming to prevent its misuse due to its painkilling properties. Riders testing positive for the substance now risk a four-year suspension and the nullification of their race results.
Quintana's case with Tramadol at the 2022 Tour de France was a landmark, marking the first instance of a cyclist facing repercussions for the substance.