Nairo Quintana, world champion Alejandro Valverde and Giro d’Italia winner Richard Carapaz have all been confirmed in the Movistar line-up for the Vuelta a España, which gets underway with a team time trial in Torrevieja on Saturday.
The strong Movistar selection also features Marc Soler, Imanol Erviti, Nelson Oliveira, Jorge Arcas and Antonio Pedrero. As expected, there is no place for the Bahrain-Merida-bound Mikel Landa, who placed 6th overall at the Tour de France, having already finished 4th overall at the Giro.
Quintana and Valverde both participated at the Tour de France, where Movistar placed three riders in the top 10 but fell some way short of challenging for final overall victory. Quintana won over the Galibier into Valloire on stage 18 but had to settle for 8th overall, one place ahead of Valverde.
Winner of the Vuelta in 2016, Quintana missed the race a year ago but returns in what will be his final Grand Tour appearance in Movistar colours. The Colombian is expected to join Arkéa-Samsic in 2020.
A decade has passed since Valverde won his lone Grand Tour on the 2009 Vuelta, but the 39-year-old remains a general classification threat, having placed 5th overall a year ago in a race won by Simon Yates.
Like Quintana, Richard Carapaz is in his final months as a Movistar rider, with the 26-year-old expected to join Team Ineos next season. Carapaz had a stint at home in Ecuador after his Giro triumph before returning to action at last week’s Vuelta a Burgos. He showcased his pre-Vuelta form with third overall in a race won by Ivan Sosa (Ineos).
This year’s Vuelta will mark the 40th consecutive appearance of Eusebio Unzue’s squad in the race. The team began as Reynolds in 1980, before Banesto took over sponsorship a decade later. After Illes Balears and Caisse d’Épargne served as title sponsors earlier this century, Movistar took over in 2011.
The team has won the Vuelta on four occasions, though Pedro Delgado (1989), Abraham Olano (1998), Alejandro Valverde (2009) and Nairo Quintana (2016). The team has also claimed 61 stage wins at the Vuelta in its history.
Movistar Team for Vuelta a España, August 24-September 15: Alejandro Valverde (Spa), Nairo Quintana (Col), Richard Carapaz (Ecu), Marc Soler (Spa), Imanol Erviti (Spa), Nelson Oliveira (Por), Jorge Arcas (Spa) and Antonio Pedrero (Spa).