Movistar sending veterans to support three Tour de France leaders

Soler the youngest in experienced Spanish squad behind Quintana, Landa and Valverde

The Movistar team has chosen its most dedicated and experienced veteran domestiques to support its trio of general classification contenders Nairo Quintana, Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde at the Tour de France.

24-year-old Marc Soler, the winner of Paris-Nice, is the least experienced, with only one Grand Tour under his belt - last year's Vuelta a Espana. The other four riders selected - Andrey Amador, Daniele Bennati, Jose Joaquin Rojas and Imanol Erviti have a combined total of 66 Grand Tours between them.

The 2018 Tour de France begins in the Vendee region of western France on Saturday July 7 and ends in Paris on Sunday July 29. The three-week Grand Tour includes a 35.5km team time trial and a stage on the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix. The Alps come before Pyrenees with the 31km stage 20 time trial expected to decide the final overall winner. 

Landa told Marca last week that his team is ready to take on Team Sky and to finally break the British team's dominance at the Tour de France. "It could be that Movistar will be the strongest at the Tour this year," he said.

Although much has been debated about Movistar's strategy of designating three GC leaders, Landa said that he, Quintana and Valverde have had a good relationship with mutual respect.

"Nairo and I were together at the Vuelta al Pais Vasco and the Tour de Suisse," Landa argued. "We understood each other well. With Alejandro, it is easier because he is more relaxed. He enjoys his bike a lot and transmits it. We will have a team to beat."

Quintana has been the most consistent of the trio when it comes to the Grand Tours. Out of 10 attempts, he has won two - the 2014 Giro d'Italia and 2016 Vuelta, and been on the podium four other times, three times in the Tour de France.

"We can't ignore Nairo's consistency, he's always been there on the podiums of the Grand Tours," manager Eusebio Unzue said last week.

"Mikel is someone who gives us huge grounds for feeling optimistic, and Alejandro - who needs no introduction - can be up there in a key moment of all kinds, particularly in the last fortnight. If we get some good luck, too, then we've got every reason to be optimistic."

Soler will be racing in his first Tour de France, but will be a critical mountain domestique. Amador, Bennati, Rojas and Erviti are all strong riders for the flat and rolling stages, and will provide power for the cobbled stage and the team time trial. 

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