2017 WorldTour teams preview: Movistar Team
Dec 30 2016 08:58 pm CET

2017 WorldTour teams preview: Movistar Team

As the 2017 cycling season approaches, CyclingPub takes a look at the 18 WorldTour teams for the coming year. Today it's the turn of Movistar Team.

Movistar Team finished the 2016 season in the first place of the UCI WorldTour Ranking for the fourth time in a row. The team delivered a superb performance both individually and collectively but one main goal was missed: the Tour de France.

The Spanish team is keeping most of its riders from 2016 so it doesn’t have to worry about finding new leaders in addition to the already historical names of Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana. The team won’t have to look for strong riders for different terrains and situations either since it is also keeping Jonathan Castroviejo, Andrey Amador, José Joaquín Rojas, Adriano Malori, Alex Dowsett and Imanol Erviti among other first class riders. That would explain why most of the singings made by Movistar seem to aim for new and fresh riders with great projection who can grow into the team philosophy.

It doesn’t mean that no riders have left at all however. Important names such as Giovani Visconti, Ion Izaguirre and Javier Moreno are fleeing to join the ranks of the new team Bahrein-Merida while Fran Ventoso will join BMC and Juan José Lobato will ride for LottoNL-Jumbo. Those vacancies will mostly be filled with young riders. The major, and one could say only signing of a veteran is Daniele Bennati, the sprinter and classics rider arriving from the disappearing Tinkoff formation. As for the rest of the new riders, Spaniard Victor de la Parte stands out as one of the most experienced, being a professional since 2012 with an interesting career as a climber and time trialist riding for Pro Continental teams.

The other signings are: Carlos Barbero, sprinter and classics racer from Caja Rural team, Héctor Carretero who is a promising time trialist and classics rider coming from the well-known amateur team Lizarte as is the case for Richard Carapaz, who is also a capable climber and the first Ecuadorian ever to race in a WorldTour team. The last but not least newcomer is the Portuguese Nuno Bico, also a young promise for stage races.

After a very busy 2016 Valverde is expected to focus on the spring and on getting his fifth Fleche-Wallonne victory and perhaps other races he has won in the past like the Vuelta a Andalucía and the Vuelta a Castilla y León. Quintana will also have to show himself in some of these first stage races of the season in order to initiate his preparation for the Tour, particularly if he wants to race the Giro as well, as has recently been reported by Colombian media.

The spring could also be a busy season for Benatti who might fight for some classics with the assistance of Barbero. Both riders will develop a traditionally not too strong field for Movistar: sprint finales. Héctor Carretero, the youngest rider of the squad, is also worth watching for the classics with the correct guidance of the more experienced Bennati.

But the main question for Eusebio Unzúe’s team is: How to conform the squad that will backup Quintana in the Tour? Until now Movistar has fell short in keeping up with the powerful Sky on French roads. Although its participations had been admirable (with second and third places in the last few years), and its roster is always conformed of world class names, it hasn’t been able to effectively challenge the Sky leadership. Maybe this year Rubén Fernández, who delivered an outstanding performance during the last Vuelta a España, could be picked for the Tour, as well as Victor de la Parte if he reaches a good shape until June.

It is unlikely that any of the new climbers such as Richard Carapaz or Nuno Bico could take part in the Grand Boucle given their inexperience but if their performance in smaller stage races is consistent during the year they could fit in the roster for Vuelta a España and try to show their skills on the hard Spanish mountains.

The coming year will positively be another outstanding season for the Spanish team given its powerful roster and the experience of its staff members. But those same staff members will have to be creative enough and think out of the box in order to achieve the long awaited Tour de France victory. This could be more than just another good year for this historical team if its directors are ambitious enough and can effectively bring across that ambition to its predominantly young squad.

Complete roster

Rory Sutherland (AUS)
Andrey Amador (CRC)
Winner Anacona (COL)
Carlos Betancur (COL)
Dayer Quintana (COL)
Nairo Quintana (COL)
Richard Carapaz (ECU)
Jorge Arcas (ESP)
Carlos Barbero (ESP)
Héctor Carretero (ESP)
Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP)
Víctor de la Parte (ESP)
Imanol Erviti (ESP)
Rubén Fernández (ESP)
Jesús Herrada (ESP)
José Herrada (ESP)
Gorka Izagirre (ESP)
Dani Moreno (ESP)
Antonio Pedrero (ESP)
José Joaquín Rojas (ESP)
Marc Soler (ESP)
Alejandro Valverde (ESP)
Jasha Sütterlin (GER).
Alex Dowsett (GBR)
Daniele Bennati (ITA)
Adriano Malori (ITA)
Nuno Bico (POR)
Nelson Oliveira (POR)

By Marcelo Hernández
Image: Movistar Team logo.





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