The Spanish Movistar team has held its official presentation at the sponsor's headquarters in Madrid, with Movistar Luis Abril insisting there was no pressure on the riders to achieve results in the first year.
The Spanish telecommunications company has replaced French bank Caisse d’Epargne as main sponsor for the next three years, with the team again managed by Euesbio Unzue. The organisation has been sponsored in its past by Illes Balears, Banesto and Reynolds, producing riders of the calibre of Miguel Indurain and Pedro Delgado.
The team showed off its distinctive blue and green jersey. Movistar is the only team to use the Campagnolo electronic transmission system in 2011, fitted to Pinarello bikes. Movistar will also sponsor a 15-rider Continental team in Colombia that will help develop young riders and compete in the UCI Americas Tour.
With Alejandro Valverde still suspended for his involment in Operación Puerto, the leading riders in the 25-man squad include David Arroyo, who was second overall in the 2010 Giro d’Italia, veteran stage racer Marzio Bruseghin of Italy, sprinter José Joaquín Rojas and Colombian climber Mauricio Soler. New signings include Ignatas Konovalovas, Branislau Samoilau, Xavier Tondo and Francisco Ventoso. Tondo won a stage at Paris-Nice in 2010.
"This is a new adventure and a formidable project," Unzue told Marca, describing the arrival of Movistar as a gift for cycling in a difficult moment. “They believe that it’s time to help cycling survive and capture the public’s enthusiasm.”
Abril asked the team to honour Movistar's company name.
"You have the best sponsor in the world." Abril said. "It's an unprecedented opportunity. Do thing calmly, there is no pressure for immediate results, just do your best. We’ve put our very valuable brand in your hands and we demand that you honour it.”
The Movistar team has already won a stage at the Tour de San Luis thanks to Tondo, while Francisco Ventoso won stage five of the Tour Down Under.
Unzue hopes that Arroyo and Bruseghin can perform well at the Giro d’Italia, while Tondo and Soler will be protected riders at the Tour de France. The leaders for the Vuelta will be decided after the Tour, with opportunities given to younger riders such as Beñat Intxausti, who was third in last year’s Tour of the Basque Country.
Unzue has also confirmed he is interested in signing Franco Pellizotti if the Italian is cleared of doping after the UCI claimed his biological passport values were in violation of their parameters. The UCI’s appeal against the Italian Olympic Committee’s decision to clear him will be heard in early March.
The Movistar riders headed to Mallorca after the team presentation for a brief training camp. A squad will ride the Challenge Mallorca race series that begins on Sunday.
2011 Movistar team roster:
Andrey Amador, David Arroyo, Marzio Bruseghin, Imanol Erviti, Txente García, José Ivan Gutierrez, Vasili Kiryienka, Pablo Lastras , David López, Angel Madrazo, Luis Pasamontes, Fran Pérez, Ruben Plaza, José Joaquín Rojas, Mauricio Soler, Carlos Oyarzun, Jesus Herrera, Beñat Intxausti, Javier Iriarte, Ignatas Konovalovas, Branislau Samoilau, Enrique Sanz, Xavier Tondo, Francisco Ventoso and Sergio Pardilla.