2014 Team Previews: Movistar

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Who are the sponsor? Movistar are part of Telefonica, a mobile phone network that owns O2 and the like

Nationality: Spanish.

2013 Ranking: 1st.

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Past Stars: Miguel Indurain, Rui Costa, Luis Leon Sanchez, Oscar Pereiro, Juan Antonio Flecha, Joaquim Rodriguez, Denis Menchov

Selected Team Palmares:  4 Stages, Tour de France, 1st, 2008 Vuelta a Espana, Points classification, 2012 & 2013 Vuelta a Espana, 7 stages, Vuelta a Espana, 2008 & 2009 Criterium du Dauphine, 2009 Volta a Cataluyna, 2006 & 2008 Liege Bastonge Liege, 2006 Fleche Wallone, 2008 San Sebastian Classic (all Alejandro Valverde), King of the Mountains, best young rider and stage, 2013 Tour de France, 2013 Tour of the Basque country (Nairo Quintana), 2 stages, 2013 Giro d’Italia (Giovanni Visconti), stage, 2013 Giro d’Italia (Alex Dowsett), Stage, 2011 Giro d’Italia (Eros Capecchi)

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Brief Team History: Movistar have been going since 1980, when they formed as Reynolds, and have progressed through various iterations such as Banesto, where they had 5 time Tour winner Miguel Indurain on their books, before Balleric island sponsor Illes Ballears came along in the oo’s, before Caisse d’Epargne came in in 2005. Valverde started to peak then, before being dumped in lieu of his Operation Puerto connections, although he still trained with the team and returned immediately after his ban ended. The team belatedly won the 2006 Tour with Oscar Pereiro, and almost pulled off the same long-break-wins-the-tour trick with David Arroyo at the 2010 Giro, ultimately finishing second. Now with Valverde and Quintana, the team has beefed up its GC men and doesnt bother with cobbled classics.

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Last year: Movistar won the best team World Tour prize for their many successes. They don’t care about cobbles, but they were present everywhere else. Valverde was 3rd at Liege, the Worlds and 2nd at the Tour of Lombardy, whilst the youngster Quintana lived up to the hype around him by winning the Tour of the Basque country. Better was yet to come though – first the team pulled off three stages wins in the Giro, with Brit Alex Dowsett besting compatriot Bradley Wiggins in the TT, before Giovanni Visconti won on the Galibier before winning another stage. Rui Costa then snatched the Tour de Suisse for the second year in a row at the death, before the Tour was joyous time – aside from Valverde losing 10 minutes when in a podium position, Quintana soared to second place, King of the Mountains and best young rider, plus he won the Semnoz stage off the back of Rui Costa’s two break away stage wins. Valverde could only get third in the Vuelta, but then he and Costa ended up at opposite ends of the Worlds podium. Costa had already signed to leave however, but with Quintana coming through, it wasn’t the huge loss it would be for other teams.

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Transfer dealings: The team has lost a Vuelta winner and a world champion, although it’s not as bad as it seems – Juan Jose Cobo just wasnt consistent enough for the team, whilst Costa’s loss is covered by their raiding of the Euskatel Euskadi team. Igor Anton and the Izagirre brothers arrive, as well as French Giro podium maker John Gadret, plus Nairo’s brother Dayer Quintana. Italian TT specialist Andrea Malori also joins.

Who are the star riders? The team has two GC leaders, one a pure climber in Nario Quintana, and the other more of an all rounder in Alejandro Valverde. Then there is a raft of strong GC super domestiques such as Eros Capecchi, Andrey Amador, Igor Anton, Sylvester Szmyd and Javier Moreno. The team then has all rounder Giovanni Visconti, a couple of strong time trialists in Alex Dowsett and Andrea Malori, plus occasional sprinter JJ Rojas.

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Fashion Police: Movistar have become an increasingly dark shade of blue, and have now removed all white and black panels that they used to have, with some added green piping and extra large logos to help differentiate themselves.

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What are their targets? The team is essentially trying to get a man on the podium of all three Grand Tours – Quintana is the favourite for the Giro, Valverde is aiming at the Tour, and then both are supposedly going to the Vuelta, which could be an interesting team issue. One week stage races and the hilly classics will be their other targets.

What are they likely to achieve? Quintana has already assumed favourite status for the Giro, but the time trial will go against him. Still, he should be able to drop the majority of his competitors in the mountains, and so the podium is all but assured for him in peoples minds – just which step. Valverde might actually have a chance of making the Tour podium on a route that suits him, as long as his seemingly obligatory bad day doesnt happen for once. The Vuelta will see the two team up again, which should be interesting, but one of them will probably snag a monument somewhere, although Valverde is turning into a Spanish Pozzato – a ‘shadow’ with a habit of getting on the podium by following but not quite making the top spot.

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Components: Movistar have switched to Canyon this year, but keep their Campagnolo components. Endura now make the kit.

The Big Question(s): Can Quintana take his maiden grand tour? Does Valverde have the power to get on the Tour podium? Can the two coexist at the Vuelta?

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