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Team boss aims for impact despite having no clear leader
Eusebio Unzue, boss of the new Movistar outfit, has said that he expects his team to make a significant impact during the 2011 season despite its lack of an outstanding leader. With former standard-bearer Alejandro Valverde banned until 2012 and the possible signing of Franco Pellizotti still in doubt, Unzue is putting his faith in a roster of 24 riders that "doesn't have an outstanding figure, but does feature a lot of quality that will enable us to field a good team at the start of any race".
Speaking to Marca, Unzue said that final logistical preparations for the new squad are being completed. Most of the equipment suppliers to Caisse d'Epargne will remain on board and just about the only key thing still to be resolved is the design of the new team jersey. "It's still not been decided, although it will feature the blue colours of [Movistar owners] Telefónica as the predominant colours," Unzue explained.
He admitted that a rider or two could yet be added to the roster, but confirmed that no deal had yet been reached with Pellizotti. "It could happen, but there are other teams interested and the case has yet to be closed. We will have to see how things go with the UCI," said Unzue, referring to the possibility that the UCI could appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the Italian Olympic Committee's decision to clear Pellizotti of biological passport irregularities.
"Our strength is the depth in the team," said Unzue. "Riders like Arroyo, Rubén Plaza, Rojas, Bruseghin, Tondo, Pardilla, Ventoso and, among others, Samoilau should enable us to be well represented in all of the big tours." Unzue said that the team will not be focusing on the podium at any of the grand tours, although he added, "We will have to see how far Tondo can go."
Unzue confirmed that Movistar is in for the long haul and won't be looking for short-term success. "During the first year we will try to do the best we can, but the main objective is to bed in the structure. Then in 2012 we will think about adding some strength by signing another rider," explained Unzue.
He also gave more detail about the outfit's continental team that will be based in Bogotá, Colombia, and will race in Latin America, where Telefónica has a host of business interests. The team will be managed by former Colombian national coach Libardo Leyton.
"He's got a long of experience and is someone I've known since his days with Café de Colombia and Postobon," said Unzue. "Although there will be a lot of Colombians among the 15 or 16 riders, there will be some from other Latin American countries where Telefónica y Movistar have interests." Unzue confirmed that the continental team will not be up and running until February.