Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde lead the way in Movistar's Tour de France long list. The Spanish team confirmed the 12 riders that are in the running to fill the remaining seven spots for the race in July. The team will name the final nine-man line-up following the national championships in Europe next week.
Quintana heads to the Tour de France after finishing second to Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) at the Giro d'Italia. The Colombian had hoped to win both the Giro and the Tour this season. He has not raced since the Giro d'Italia finished at the end of last month. He had been pencilled in to ride the Route du Sud later this week but pulled out citing fatigue from his efforts in May.
In contrast, Valverde has not ridden a Grand Tour yet this season. The 37-year-old has just finished the Criterium du Dauphine, where he finished ninth overall. Valverde rode an aggressive race but found himself struggling when the major attacks came in the stage finale. He did, however, pull out a strong performance in the time trial that saw him finish third on the stage.
In the running for a place in Movistar's squad are Andrey Amador, Daniele Bennati, Carlos Betancur, Jonathan Castroviejo, Alex Dowsett, Imanol Erviti, Rubén Fernández, Jesús Herrada, Dani Moreno, Nelson Oliveira, José Joaquín Rojas and Jasha Sütterlin.
Amador, Bennati and Rojas all rode with Quintana at the Giro d'Italia and, like their team leader, have not competed since its completion.
Betancur has been on good form this month with a strong performance in the Climb race of the Hammer Series. This week's Tour de Suisse will be a major test for the Colombian, as it will be for Dowsett, Oliveira and Castroviejo. Betancur has often struggled to adapt to living in Europe for part of the season and missed large chunks of his programme during his final seasons with AG2R La Mondiale. He joined Movistar last year and took some early wins, but had a string of abandons in the latter part of the season. If he can back up his Hammer Series ride with a strong performance in the Swiss mountains, then he could be a sure bet for his debut Tour de France.
Moreno has a high chance of making the Movistar squad as one of the team's most important climbers. The Spaniard rode with Valverde at the Criterium du Dauphine last week as did Erviti, Fernandez, Sutterlin and Herrada.
Last season, Movistar went with a very climber heavy line-up with Erviti the only true rider for the flat. With plenty of climbing and no team time trials, it is likely that the team will have a similar focus for this year's race.
Movistar pre-selection for the Tour de France: Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde, Andrey Amador, Daniele Bennati, Carlos Betancur, Jonathan Castroviejo, Alex Dowsett, Imanol Erviti, Rubén Fernández, Jesús Herrada, Dani Moreno, Nelson Oliveira, José Joaquín Rojas and Jasha Sütterlin.
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