Movistar team manager Eusebio Unzue has discarded rumours that Oscar Freire was close to signing with the Spanish team. On Friday, he indicated to Marca that "the option with Freire has been put aside", without explaining further. The three-times world champion is currently looking for a squad to continue racing in 2012.
On the other hand, Unzue's long-term prodigy Alejandro Valverde could come back to the squad once his doping suspension is lifted. Valverde will have the right to race again as of January 1, 2012, but his team choice has not been revealed yet. "There will be press releases on his signing come the right moment," an enigmatic Unzue added.
Valverde has close ties to Unzue, for whom he raced since 2005. Still, the Belgian super team Omega Pharma-Quick Step has been rumoured to also have made the Spaniard offers, as well as RadioShack and Katusha, which is home to Valverde's former Caisse d'Epargne teammate Joaquím Rodríguez.
But even without Valverde, the Movistar team has had a very satisfying season, scoring a total of 21 victories. "We can say that we have done a very very good season in which we have been able to set the basis of this new sponsorship," said the team manager who can look back on a career covering two decades since he started directing Banesto in 1990. Last year, his long-time sponsor Caisse d'Epargne bailed out and mobile telephone company Movistar took over the financial reigns in 2011.
For next season, Movistar has already signed five new riders. "Visconti will reinforce the team in one-day races. With Castroviejo, Moreno and Herrada we are patching up the weaknesses we had. The signing of Nairo Quintana is an addition for the future as part of a strategy that we've had in the last few years."