Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) is set to ride the Giro d'Italia and skip the Vuelta a Espana for the first time in his career in 2016 as he targets the Olympic Games in Rio. Valverde will line-up at the Giro before heading to the Tour de France and then the Olympic Games.
The 2016 Giro d'Italia will begin in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands and features three time trials.
The decision to shake up Valverde's calendar comes after the team met this week for their first training camp ahead of 2016. The Vuelta has been a constant on Valverde's calendar and has ridden it almost every year since he turned professional, only missing it for injury reasons and during his suspension for doping in 2010 and 2011. Of the 10 times that he has participated, the 35-year-old has finished on the podium six times including taking overall victory in 2009. Valverde has topped the WorldTour rankings for the past two years thanks to success in the hilly Classics and consistency in Grand Tours.
When questioned about the wisdom of removing Valverde from his home race, Movistar team manager Eusebio Unzue said, "The decision, which is not definitive in any way, is purely for sporting reasons," he said according to Spanish newspaper El Pais.
Despite already having a Grand Tour in his legs, Unzue also confirmed that Valverde would go to the Tour de France as joint leader. Nairo Quintana and Valverde finished second and third respectively at this year's Tour de France. "The race that our calendar is formed around is the Tour and there we will be with our two leaders Valverde and Nairo Quintana," Unzue said.
Spain will not be without a serious contender at the Vuelta a Espana with Alberto Contador set to ride his final Grand Tour on home roads. Joaquim Rodriguez is yet to decide on his participation but has the Vuelta pencilled in on his calendar.
During Movistar's Pamplona training camp the team also unveiled their new kit for the 2016 season.