Valverde to lead Movistar at Vuelta

Alejandro Valverde has been selected to lead Team Movistar for this year's Vuelta a Espana. The 2009 Vuelta Champion will return to the 68th running of the Spanish grand tour in strong form with a strong team. The 33-year-old Spaniard is coming off a heavy season of racing and his recovery following the Tour de France will be crucial to his performance in Spain.

In 2009 Valverde's path to Vuelta success came via a classics heavy spring and then a more moderate mid-year program that included two successive victories in the Critérium Du Dauphiné Libéré and the Vuelta a Burgos. Valverde came out of the Tour de France this year in impressive form and confirmed that with a second place at the Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian only six days after the finish of the Tour. Whether that form remains is the question that needs answering.

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Ivan Basso (Cannondale) both showed they were on form to challenge Valverde after strong performances at the Vuelta a Burgos last week. If Nibali retains even a slither of his Giro-winning-self then he will certainly be the man to watch. Nairo Quintana (Movistar) may have claimed victory at the Vuelta a Burgos, and was the talk of the town during the centenary the Tour de France, but he will not be racing this year's Vuelta.

Valverde last won an overall tour at the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol in Spain back in February. The remainder of the nine man squad will be finalised at the conclusion of the Eneco Tour which is currently being raced in Holland and Belgium. A 27.4 kilometre team time trial will kick of the Vuelta on the 24th of August and will provide selectors with an unwelcome dilemma as to whether they bolster their teams to gain time on the opening stage, or whether they focus on the 11 summit finishes that will follow.

Movistar long team for Vuelta 2013

Eros Capecchi, Imanol Ervin, Iván Gutiérrez, José Herrada, Jesus Herrada, Beñat Intxausti, Pablo Alfaro, Javi Moreno, Sylwester Szmyd, Eloy Teruel, Alejandro Valverde

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