Movistar finished in Madrid earning its ninth team classification at a Grand Tour, stepping on the top step as a team at the Vuelta a Espana. Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde continued the team's Grand Tour streak of having a rider finish in the top four overall in the past eight Grand Tours they have competed at. After finishing second to Chris Froome at the Tour de France, Quintana overcame illness to finish fourth while Valverde finished seventh overall with a stage win and the points classification jersey also to his name
Movistar's general manager Eusebio Unzué explained that considering the hurdles the team confronted over three weeks of racing, he was proud of his riders resilience and performances.
"Quite satisfied, despite our lack of health and fortune," Unzué said.
An upset stomach and fever nearly forced Quintana to abandon midway through the second week of the race but the Colombian recovered and only missed the podium by 33 seconds in the final week following a strong time trial and an aggressive showing in the final mountain stages.
"If not satisfied, Nairo [Quintana] can at least end this race confident that, should things have gone better in terms of health, he could have been probably again in contention for the win, seeing how he performed yesterday," Unzué added of his rider who crashed out of the Vuelta last year.
"He clearly got stronger during the final week, rode an impressive TT, and despite the last four days weren't the most suited for him. It was difficult to bounce back after all the time he lost. He really got to recover after such a delicate situation in Andorra. I'm happy how he fared."
Valverde had his share of health problems following a stage 9 crash that resulted in a nagging shoulder injury. The injury hindered Valverde from capitalising on the form he had shown only a few days prior when winning stage 4 in Vejer de la Frontera.
"With no desire to make up excuses," Unzué said, "The medication he had to go through to get well after the inflammation and consequences from his crash towards Benitatxell, made that for five days, he didn't look and perform like the always-hundred-per-cent Alejandro we're used to find.
"Considering his brilliant season so far, the fact that he most probably could have been into the top five without his crash – the incident doesn't allow us making a more serious analysis – and the fatigue from the Tour, where he got the reward he deserved at a very high cost, I feel like Alejandro did a nice Vuelta," he added of the number one UCI WorldTour rider for successive seasons.
Movistar was one of a select few teams to finish with all nine riders in Madrid with Unzué heaping praise on them for three solid weeks of effort at the high standard Movistar has set in recent years.
"The team worked perfectly for its leaders, both rouleurs and climbers," Unzué added. "A consequence of that regularity, always there to help out, is this win in the teams' classification, something we always appreciated and which rounds off a brilliant season for us so far."
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