After two seasons away from the Tour de France, Beñat Intxausti (Movistar) will switch his season's focus back to the Tour for 2014. The Movistar rider will be there for experience and to ride in assistance of Alejandro Valverde, who is looking for his first Tour podium, according to Biciciclismo.
Intxausti's main goal has been the Giro d'Italia for the last two years. This season, the Basque rider finished in a career-best eighth position, wore the pink jersey for a day and claimed victory in stage 16. Later on in the season, he took the overall victory at the Tour of Beijing, ahead of Dan Martin, after winning the queen stage.
Next season's Giro will be the domain of Nairo Quintana, who is going for overall victory in the Italian Grand Tour. The Colombian may ride the Tour, but the team will still be one man short due to the departure of Rui Costa to Lampre-Merida at the end of this season. Intxausti has ridden the Tour de France once before, but he abandoned it in the first week and has since avoided it.
Movistar are well aware that things can go wrong very quickly after Valverde punctured and lost almost 10 minutes on stage 13 of the 2013 Giro d'Italia. Quintana was the only rider to keep himself in the top 10, and after that stage, and was able to move himself into second place behind Chris Froome. In 2014, Intxausti may have a protected role as a back-up for Valverde, but that is unclear yet, and he's unlikely to reach the same giddy heights as his younger teammate.
Intxausti will start his season at the Tour de San Luis, before going back to Europe for the Challenge Mallorca. The Spaniard will then take part in an altitude camp on Mount Teide in Tenerife. His racing will pick up again with Paris-Nice, E3 Harelbeke, Gent-Wevelgem and the Vuelta País Vasco. After a period of rest, the Movistar rider will head to Yorkshire for the Tour de France grand depart on July 5.
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