Spanish team launched today in Madrid
Movistar's team launch in Madrid on Friday saw Spain's only remaining WorldTour squad confirm that in 2014 they will be looking for a Grand Tour victory, arguably the only result which was lacking in their impressively strong 2013 season.
The Spanish team completed last year as the best-ranked squad in the UCI WorldTour classification, leapfrogging ahead of Team Sky after a victory in the Tour of Beijing. They scored no less than 32 wins, 15 of them WorldTour victories, their best total in three years' sponsorship by the telecommunications company.
But after Nairo Quintana finishing second at the Tour de France in 2013, and Alejandro Valverde taking his umpteenth podium at the Vuelta, as well as four stage wins in the Giro going to the Spanish squad, Movistar say they are going into the 2014 season with the stated aim of taking an elusive Grand Tour win.
The team has the economic stability - Movistar announced last autumn they are sponsoring the squad until 2016 - not to feel under too much pressure. But given their previous victory in one of the three-week stage races was in the Vuelta in 2009 with Valverde, a Grand Tour win is long overdue.
"Looking at our palmares we [the Movistar management] are the first to admit that we have to take that step towards victory," said Movistar team manager Eusebio Unzue on Friday. "But we know it's the hardest step to take and only one person manages to do it.
"Both Nairo and Alejandro" - the Colombian in the Giro, the Spaniard in the Tour and both in the Vuelta - "are capable of doing that, and by their side they have a team in which they can trust 100 percent.
"After so much success, it's clear we have to go all out for the overall win in one of the three Grand Tours," concluded Unzue.
New signings for 2014 include four former Euskaltel-Euskadi riders - sprinter Juanjo Lobato, brothers Ion and Gorka Izaguirre and climber Igor Anton - as well as former Giro leader and 2013 Bayern Rundfahrt winner Adriano Malori, Germany's Jasha Sutterlin, Giro podium finisher John Gadret of France and Quintana's little brother Dayer. The biggest loss from the 2013 Movistar squad is undoubtedly Rui Costa, reigning World Champion, to Lampre-Merida.
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