When it comes to the fight for general classification victories in Grand Tours, the pro cycling squads Team Sky and Movistar Team have been battling hard for years. The Spanish Movistar Team has existed since 1980, and has an illustrious lineage through Banesto and Caisse d’Epargne. The team today still has a number of different riders who can go for the podium in a wide range of races. Here are Movistar Team’s key riders.
The big star at Team Movistar: Alejandro Valverde
Alejandro Valverde has achieved just about everything you can think of in cycling during his career so far. In 2018 he won the UCI Road World Championships elite men’s road race in impressive style. But we know him mainly because of his success in the Spring Classics, when he is often at his best. Races such as the Flèche Wallonne and Liège–Bastogne–Liège immediately come to mind. He is also always on form during the major stage races, though there he is mainly chief support rider for the team (at least that is what he says).
Although Valverde is a bit on the old side, you can never write him off, as the 2018 world championships proved. Every early Spring he rides the various one-week Spanish races, and then he travels to all the Spring Classics and then races the Tour de France.
For a long time, Nairo Quintana seemed the only serious rival to Chris Froome. However, in 2018, Froome was passed by his own team mate Geraint Thomas and Quintana didn’t seem to have the power to attack like he did in the past. Nevertheless, he’s still a climber who can mix with the very best on a good day. He has won the Giro d’Italia in the past and has ridden good general classification results in the Tour de France on many occasions. His only weak point is the time trial. But that event in the 2019 edition of the Tour de France is so short, it makes Quintana a serious contender for the overall victory.
Mikel Landa rode for Team Sky for years. But in the end he had had enough of riding support for a succession of team leaders—so he made the noteworthy switch to Movistar Team. So far, is doesn’t appear to be a very happy marriage, but Landa hopes to change that in the 2019 season. Mikel Landa is a strong rider, very suited to the three-week stage races such as the Giro, the Tour de France and the Tour of Spain. He’s a rider you always have to keep an eye on. He did, however, break his collarbone during one of the very first race in 2019. So it remains to be seen if he will be on form and whether his plans will change for the Giro and the Tour.
Jurgen Roelandts is a 33-year-old veteran. He has ridden most of his career for the Belgian Lotto squad, until moving to BMC in 2018 and then stepping over to Movistar for the 2019 season. In him, Movistar has signed a rider who performs decently during the Spring Classics and is certainly in the frame for a top ten position in those races. Paris–Roubaix is one of the races where it’s worth keeping an eye on him.
Daniele Bennati is one of those riders who doesn’t know the meaning of stopping. He is now 38 years old. Although his best years are clearly behind him, he has won numerous stage wins in the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia and the Tour of Spain. He’s no longer the fastest rider, but experience counts for a lot in the team, and given half a chance he will teach his young rivals a thing or two.