Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) will lead Spain at the World Championships in Ponferrada at the end of the month. On Wednesday, Spanish team selector Javier Minguez announced the nine men that would represent the home nation and the two that would compete in the time trial.
Spain last won the road race title with Óscar Freire in 2004, but has been on the podium in all but two years since then. In 2013, Spain had two riders – Valverde and Joaquim Rodríguez – in the crucial four-man break at the end. However, they were unable to convert that into gold when Valverde failed to chase down Rui Costa, who went on to beat Rodríguez in the sprint.
Minguez was heavily critical of the team, Valverde in particular, after failing to bring home the gold. With Rodríguez also making the selection for this year’s race, discussions about the inter-team rivalry have already begun. Minguez dismissed the idea of bad blood between the pair.
“From what I’ve read, I don’t believe anything. I will believe what I see in the race,” said Minguez. “Before the end we are going to give a beating, so by the end we will have to work well.”
He went on to say that he would be pleased to take home the same haul at they did 12 months previously. “Right now, who wouldn’t take the two medals like we had last year?” He said. “If we make the same tactic as last year and we have the same situation as last year, and we have the same situation as Florence it would become a monument, but it won’t be the same.”
Two big omissions from the team selection are Alberto Contador and Samuel Sanchez. Contador had previously stated that he would not ride the Worlds, but was named in Minguez’s long-list. “It is sad that Contador won’t race with his form and be number one, but it is the artist who decides, although I don’t like it,” said Minguez. “Samuel had an excellent Vuelta. It is painful, but I have to take difficult decisions and this is what I have taken.”
Ponferrada will be Valverde’s tenth time at the World Championships, making him the most experienced rider in the team. In that time, he has taken three bronze medals and two silver, but has never stepped on top of the rostrum. Along with Rodríguez and his fellow Katusha rider Daniel Moreno, Valverde will be supported by teammates Jon Izagirre, Jesús Herrada, Imanol Erviti and Jonathan Castroviejo – the last two of which rode the Vuelta alongside Valverde.
Castroviejo will also line-up in the time trial, as will World Championship debutant Markel Irizar. The Trek rider has never competed in the event as a professional, and finished 21st in the time trial at Under23 level in 2001. Vuelta a España stage winner Daniel Navarro is also making his debut at senior level.
Spanish team for the World Championships
Road race: Alejandro Valverde, Joaquim Rodríguez, Jon Izagirre, Jesús Herrada, Imanol Erviti, Jonathan Castroviejo, Luis León Sanchez, Daniel Moreno and Daniel Navarro.
Time trial: Jonathan Castroviejo and Markel Irizar.