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Movistar shake-up continues with Arrieta out as Piepoli and Ibarguren come in

Vuelta a Espana 2019
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Movistar manager Eusebio Unzué has spoken of 'tough decisions' as he dismisses José Luis Arrieta after a quarter of a century of service and welcomes a host of new faces to his senior team, including Leonardo Piepoli, José Ibarguren, and Iván Velasco.

Cyclingnews confirmed reports of Arrieta's departure in a recent conversation with Patxi Vila, who was appointed Head of Performance at the start of last year, when the 'process of change' was apparently put in motion. 

Arrieta began his career 1993 and raced for the team for 13 seasons before going on to spend over a decade as a sports director once he'd hung up his wheels in 2011. 

"It was a very, very tough decision for me personally," Unzué told Spanish newspaper El País. "But it was one we had to take, thinking about the greater good of the team."

While Arrieta ponders legal action, Vicente García Acosta, Pablo Lastras, Max Sciandri, José Luis Jaimerena, and Vila remain as directors. They will join riders and staff for their first get-together this week to prepare for the 2022 season.  

There is no direct replacement for Arrieta for 2022, but El País revealed a number of new faces in the performance department as the general shake-up continues. 

Piepoli rode for the team between 1999 and 2003 and later ended his career in disgrace when he tested positive for CERA in 2008. He has since been coaching professional riders on an individual basis, including 2019 Tour of Flanders winner Alberto Bettiol, and is set to step into a coaching role at Movistar. 

Piepoli will be joined on the payroll by his former doctor José Ibarguren, who also used to work for Movistar, more than two decades ago. The Spanish doctor worked for the Saunier Duval team at the time that Piepoli emerged as one of three riders to test positive during the 2008 Tour de France. He was subsequently summoned to answer questions in an Italian court during the Mantova doping investigation.

Since 2012, Ibarguren has worked for the Deceuninck-QuickStep team. 

The third new face at Movistar for 2022 is, according to El País, Iván Velasco, a technical specialist who is currently working for Astana. 

The Spaniard focuses on aerodynamics and biomechanics, helping perfect riders' positions in the wind tunnel ahead of each season, and is said to have been brought on board to help Movistar improve in time trials.

As Vila pointed out last week, Movistar are undergoing substantial change, with the overhaul of the senior staff combining with an overhaul of their rider roster. 

The likes of Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa have left the team in recent years, while veteran talisman Alejandro Valverde is nearing the end of his career at 41. While the team brought in Enric Mas and Miguel Angel López - who has already left in controversial circumstances - to steady their Grand Tour plans, new signings have largely been young riders, from a variety of backgrounds and countries. 

"This is a 42-year-old team, that’s sometimes been more successful, sometimes less. But either way we are currently in a process of change," Vila said.

"We want to make the squad more international, with a broader number of different types of riders and profiles. But while these riders can give the team a more modern feel, similarly they have to adapt  a little to our techniques and practices as a squad as well. And that all takes time."

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