Movistar have announced it will enter the Vuelta a España with two leaders it believes are capable of securing overall victory. Giro d'Italia winner Nairo Quintana and former Vuelta winner Alejandro Valverde will lead the team in its home Grand Tour which starts on August 23 in Jerez.
Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde will lead the nine-man roster which the Movistar Team will bring to the start of the 69th Vuelta a España on Saturday. Quintana, winner of this year's Giro d'Italia, will start his first Spanish Grand Tour in a leading role after debuting in 2012, with full confidence after his recent victory in the Vuelta a Burgos. In turn, Valverde, leader of the UCI WorldTour standings, will start for the ninth time in the Grand Tour where he has earned biggest success -winner in 2009, five-time podium finisher, including 2012 and 2013.
Alongside Quintana and Valverde, the Movistar Team – which is also on top of the UCI world ranking – will present a strong lineup that features Andrey Amador, Jonathan Castroviejo, Imanol Erviti, José Herrada, Gorka Izagirre, Adriano Malori and Javi Moreno. A last-minute absence will be Igor Antón, suffering from a flu and tonsillitis and subsequently advised against taking the start in Jerez de la Frontera.
Eusebio Unzué, Movistar Team general manager, said, “Probably, no Grand Tour has had a stronger field in recent years - almost all big riders in the WorldTour, all of them confident about their chances of overall success. As far as we're concerned, and with all due caution against such a start list, having Nairo and Alejandro in our team means we have to start the race with the intention of contesting the victory. Nairo has spent 70 days without racing, but still brought his professionalism to the fore coming in good shape to the race; plus, Alejandro is a really important man for us, and I also think he can be in the thick of things GC-wise. It will be the race itself which decides who our leader will be. By their side, they will rely on a balanced, strong group. It seems like the mountains are really playing the main role in the race, but with all climbers favored for the win and still taking such many mountain-top finishes into account, the 45 kilometers of time trials might play a massive impact on the race's outcome.
"Froome has dominated Grand Tours in recent years, and respecting that, he should be the main favourite. About Alberto (Contador), after the fitness level he's shown all year long, if he has decided to race, it's because he feels close or right in his top condition. Nairo has proven to be doing well, and the only concern you could keep is how he will react to a second Grand Tour in the same year, because there are no precedents for him. Purito and Alejandro are always a guarantee, because they've always done well in this race. And after all those, there's a 'second tier', including Daniel Martin - who will probably be the freshest of all favourites - and a new generation that should dominate Grand Tours in the future: Aru, Talansky, Pinot, Barguil, Chaves… With all those names, I think we're facing a promising Vuelta a España."