Telephone squad completes maiden Grande Boucle with satisfactory outcome: a stage win and a fight until the very end with Rojas for the green jersey
The blue Movistar Team jersey rode for the very first time across the Champs-Élysées in Paris, the epilogue for the remarkable Tour de France completed by the telephone squad in their debut season in pro cycling. The squad managed by Eusebio Unzué accomplished the objective aiming for at the start of the French grandtour on July 2nd: a stage win. Portugal’s Rui Costa took in Super-Besse, the first mountain-top finish of this year’s event, a superb success that took the squad into the winning side really early. Since then, the fight for the green points jersey with José Joaquín Rojas, against two top guns like Cavendish and Gilbert, centered all efforts from Movistar Team.
The Spanish champion stepped onto the Tour’s podium up to four times to take on his coveted jersey, and fought for it until the very end with the Brit -winner once again at Paris’s final sprint- to take the honours. The telephone squad, which came to this Tour into sadness of disgrace after the dramatic losses of their leaders for the race, Xavi Tondo and Mauricio Soler, was one of the most habitual sides into the breaks leading several from hundreds of hours into TV through the three-week competition, and left a good impression into thousands of fans. Movistar Team’s general manager Eusebio Unzué made an overview on his squad’s performance during the 2011 Tour: “We started the race in the worst way possible, with two riders into accident in the first crash of the Tour, right on stage 1. As a result, we ended up losing Intxausti and, with him, also our best hope for the GC. The crash made Amador suffering a lack of form during the rest of the Tour. We also lost Kiryienka during the first week, him being one of the important names of the squad. With that in mind, we set out goals on fighting for the green jersey, which took us onto the podium for four days and which caught us on the contest until the last day. But, overall, my best memory comes from the great stage victory by Rui Costa, which was our biggest goal before the start. It’s something to be satisfied about. We accomplished one of our goals and the other one was really close. The things that happened during the month and a half prior to the Tour made us change the season schedule of some riders, and we couldn’t rely on the strongest part of the block we’d expected to ride here.”
Taking a closer look to each rider’s performance, Unzué explained: “Arroyo, Erviti and Gutiérrez are riders clearly suited to protect a leader, and that’s where they shine the most. We didn’t have such role into the Tour squad, and that’s why they might have gone a bit more overshadowed. Rui left some signs of his pure class, taking a magnificent win in the way and place where he did. Besides, he was up-front in crucial moments and places like Alpe d’Huez, riding with the top guns. Rojas confirmed his progression during this year’s Tour, was about to take the objective he was riding for -the green jersey-, and, to be sincere, that’s the thing that ruled him out of contesting mid-mountain stages to notch a win. Ventoso was perfect in his supporting role for joaquín, always helping him out in all sprints, as well the intermediate ones as in proper finishes. Plus, Andrey was suffering so much that his performance can only be judged from guts. He put the epic point to our performance, the extreme sense of proud this sport has, with his sprained ankle right from the first day. Being able to ride into Paris with all bad moments suffered, even taking leading roles during some stages, is a reason for lots of compliments. Kiryienka wasn’t able to bear a bad moment suffered during the race, and Beñat cannot be reasonable judged due to his early crash. He struggled for eight days to see if he could go on, but we saw it was impossible.
This first appearance of Movistar at the Tour de France, with all circumstances during the weeks prior to the race, must be valued positively –concluded the Spanish manager-. The lads were fighting everyday, and the impression was good. Winning a stage and making it four times to the podium of the race is something to be happy, and made us take Movistar over the biggest scene in world cycling.”