Movistar's roster for 2016 took considerable shape in one fell swoop on Tuesday as the team announced no fewer than seven contract extensions.
The Spanish squad has been one of the teams with the most amount of dealing to do since the transfer window opened in August, with many riders out of contract at the end of the year. Negotiations with several names have been ongoing and some have been weighing up options elsewhere.
A large part of the roster has been firmed up with the Izagirre brothers Ion and Gorka both renewing, along with Javi Moreno, Imanol Erviti, Fran Ventoso, José Joaquín Rojas, and Dayer Quintana. The batch of renewals comes on top of a similar announcement just over a couple of weeks ago that four other riders - Adriano Malori, Andrey Amador, and the Herrada brothers, José and Jesús - had signed extensions. The length of the new contracts for each riders have not been announced.
The Izagirre brothers were both linked with moves away from Movistar. At the Tour de Pologne in August, Ion told Cyclingnews: “There are other teams interested in me and we’ll have to wait a bit, try and do well in Poland, and see what offers come in. But in principle my intention is to stay here at Movistar. We’ve not yet come to any sort of agreement but we are still negotiating – we’ll see if there is a good offer and we can stay here."
The 26-year-old went on to win the race overall, a victory that will have certainly helped his negotiating power, and he must have been satisfied that the team will offer him adequate backing in the week-long stage races. Gorka, 27, who was linked to a move to Team Sky along with his brother, has recored top-10 finishes at the Tour Down Under and Paris-Nice this season.
With the team’s prime assets and team leaders Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde both still in contract next year, Erviti and Moreno, both 31 years of age, have been kept on to continue to add support as domestiques. Erviti, in his fifth season at the team, rode the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana back to back this year for the third season in a row, while Moreno, at the team since 2012, again rode the Vuelta at the back end of a predominantly Spanish schedule.
Rojas and Ventoso are two of the team’s fast men, along with Juanjo Lobato. Cyclingnews reported in August that Ventoso had come to an agreement with Movistar boss Eusebio Unzué for an extension, and it comes as a welcome relief after the struggle he faced at the end of 2014 to secure work for this year. Rojas won a stage at the Tour of Qatar earlier in the year and a statement from the team says the 30-year-old earned his extension thanks to his two top-three finishes at the Vuelta.
Quintana, Nairo's younger brother, will look to continue his development in what will be his third year as a professional and his third year with Movistar. The Colombian won the queen stage at the Tour of Austria and also made his Grand Tour debut at the Giro d'Italia.
Another out-of-contract Movistar rider whose future has been subject to speculation is Beñat Intxausti, but the Spaniard does not feature on this latest list of renewals, adding weight to the notion that he may well be on his way out of the team. The 29-year-old told Cyclingnews in August that the likelihood would be that he go elsewhere for 2016. “In principle my idea is to go to another team. We are talking with various teams but I’ve not yet completely ruled out staying here,” Intxausti said at the time.
Movistar have made two new signings so far this year, with Vuelta a Espana stage winner Nelson Oliveira joining from Lampre-Merida, and Jorge Arcas joining as a neo-pro. There were rumours that the team had come to an agreement to sign Carlos Betancur from Ag2r-La Mondiale, but there has been nothing official from the team on the matter.
Igor Antón, Enrique Sanz, and Eros Capecchi are all out of contract and still unsure of their immediate futures, while Pablo Lastras and John Gadret, also out of contract, are set to leave.