Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde have been confirmed as the leaders of the Movistar squad for the Vuelta a España, which gets underway with a team time trial from Puerto Banús to Marbella on Saturday.
Andrey Amador, fourth overall at the Giro d’Italia, is also part of the line-up, along with Giovanni Visconti, Rory Sutherland, Javi Moreno, Imanol Erviti, Fran Ventoso and José Joaquín Rojas.
Quintana and Valverde finished second and third overall, respectively, at last month’s Tour de France, but Movistar team manager Eusebio Unzue is hopeful that their efforts north of the Pyrenees will impact unduly on their Vuelta aspirations.
"All contenders will get to this race in similar condition,” Unzue said. “Obviously, it's harder for those present at the Tour to reach top condition again with short recovery times, but the rest also rode the Giro and, in general, pretty much everyone, except for the 'galactico' 1989-90 generation of [Mikel] Landa, [Fabio] Aru and Nairo, is mature enough to cope with a second Grand Tour so close to the first one. Again, the biggest difficulty remains staying motivated for such a challenge.”
Indeed, Quintana and Valverde will face many of their Tour rivals once again at the Vuelta. Chris Froome (Sky), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) are all set to line up, with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) the lone absentee from the very upper echelon of Grand Tour riders. Astana’s Aru and Landa, second and third at the Giro, will also be on hand.
"There’s the consistency of Froome, who started showing his best with a second place overall here in 2011, and the regularity of Nibali, who already knows how to win this race and is strong in time trials, mountains and rolling terrain,” Unzue said of his team’s rivals. “Purito always shines at his best in this race, and Aru and Nairo have already proven their solidness at this race. As for Alejandro, what can we say: after such a brilliant season, any extra from him will be more than welcome.”
Unzue warned, too, that while the toughest mountain stages of the Vuelta will come when the race traverses the Pyrenees and northern Spain in the second week, the opening salvos in the searing heat of Andalusia are likely to take their toll.
“Most of the race's main difficulties will be in the north of Spain and Andorra, but there’s a different kind of hardness to be found in Andalusia,” he said. “Everyone could feel the high temperatures we suffered for a whole week last year, and that will surely add some wear and tear when the riders hit Murcia and Valencia before the first rest day.”
Movistar team for the Vuelta a España: Nairo Quintana (Col), Alejandro Valverde (Spa), Andrey Amador (CRc), Giovanni Visconti (Ita), Rory Sutherland (Aus), Javi Moreno (Spa), Imanol Erviti (Spa), Fran Ventoso (Spa) and José Joaquín Rojas (Spa).
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