Movistar has named a strong team to support Nairo Quintana at the Tour de France, with Alejandro Valverde, Ion Izagirre and Winner Anacona all included in the line-up.
Imanol Erviti, who so impressed in the cobbled classics, Dani Moreno, Gorka Izagirre, Nelson Oliveira and Jesus Herrada complete the selection, but there is no place for Alex Dowsett, who retained his British time trial title last week.
Quintana arrives at the Tour on something of a high after winning his final preparation race, the Route du Sud last week. The Colombian has enjoyed a fine 2016 campaign to date, landing the Volta a Catalunya and the Tour de Romandie earlier in the season.
After placing second to Chris Froome on each of his previous Tour de France appearances, in 2013 and 2015, Quintana has been cited by Sky manager David Brailsford as the biggest threat to the Briton’s bid for a third overall victory.
Valverde placed third overall a year ago after riding as Quintana’s co-leader but returns to the Tour de France this year to ride in support of his teammate. The veteran Spaniard placed third overall at the Giro d’Italia and will line out in the road race at the Rio 2016 Olympics in August.
Ion Izagirre impressed in winning the time trial on the penultimate day of the Tour de Suisse, and ultimately placed second overall. The Basque has been a stand-out performer in 2016, finishing third at the Tour de Romandie and fifth at Paris-Nice, and he claimed the Spanish time trial title last week.
Izagirre’s brother Gorka is one of five riders from last year’s team to be selected again in 2016, along with Quintana, Valverde, Anacona and Erviti.
Movistar team for Tour de France: Nairo Quintana (Col), Alejandro Valverde (Spa), Nelson Oliveira (Por), Winner Anacona (Col) Imanol Erviti (Spa), Gorka Izagirre (Spa), Dani Moreno (Spa), Jesús Herrada (Spa) and Ion Izagirre (Spa).