Valverde returns to defend Vuelta a Andalucía crown

Tomorrow marks the start of a hectic week for the Spanish Movistar squad which will have teams racing in three different countries concurrently. Rui Costa will lead the ProTeam at the next race at Volta ao Algarve in Portugal while Giovanni Visconti heads to France for Tour du Haut Var-matin for the two-day event. Meanwhile Alejandro Valverde will return to his home country in search of a second consecutive Vuelta a Andalucía crown.

"After its victorious European debut with Alejandro Valverde's win at the Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana in the Majorca Challenge, Movistar Team kicks-off on Thursday with seven hectic days of competition that will lead the telephone squad into ten racing days and three different countries," according to a team release.

Costa finished fifth-overall at Algarve in 2012, 0:58 behind the overall victor Richie Porte of Sky and will be supported by a all-rounder cast of Jonathan Castroviejo, Alex Dowsett ,José and Jesús Herrada, Vladimir Karpets and Enrique Sanz.

The two-day Tour du Haut Var-matin sees Visconti back to racing after opening his season in Australia at the Tour Down Under. It wasn't the best start for Visconti who crashed heavily near the end of Stage 2 at Down Under and moved into a support role for eventual teammate and eventual second-place overall Javi Moreno - who will be skipping the French race in favour of the 546.8km Vuelta a Andalucia - Ruta Ciclista Del Sol.

Finally, Valverde headlines Movistar best chance for overall success at Andalucía with the four-day race coming a little under two weeks since his last tasted podium champagne at Trofeo Serra de Tramuntana - the third race at Challenge Mallorca. It was a tight fought battle at last year's edition with Rein Taaramae (Cofidis) and Jerome Coppel (Saur-Sojasun) finishing within 10-seconds of the race lead to fill second and third overall respectively.

Movistar team for Vuelta a Andalucía - Ruta Ciclista Del Sol: Imanol Erviti (Spa), José Ivan Gutierrez (Spa), Javier Moreno (Spa), Ruben Plaza (Spa), Nairo Quintana (Col), Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa) and Alejandro Valverde (Spa)


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