Valverde, Cobo, Rojas, Plaza, Kiryienka, Gutiérrez, Erviti, Karpets and Costa form nine-man lineup starting the big French event on Saturday
In good spirits after the 22 victories conquered up to date -one more than in the entire 2011 season- and the ambition to keep earning protagonism in their already brilliant 2012, Movistar Team will take part from Saturday in the Tour de France. It will be the Blues’ 30th appearance at the Grande Boucle (they have participated every year since 1983) of the squad directed by Eusebio Unzué, which will bring the following 9-man squad for the 99th edition of the French event: Alejandro Valverde, Juanjo Cobo, José Joaquín Rojas, Rubén Plaza, Vasil Kiryienka, Iván Gutiérrez, Imanol Erviti, Vladimir Karpets and Rui Costa.
”I think it’s a highly talented squad,” appointed Unzué. “All of them already know the Tour and are real experts in Grand Tour, but the most important thing is that they all come in perfect condition to the start. It was difficult to rule Arroyo out, but it was just the same in the Giro when we left Quintana out of our selection. It’s sad, because he was strong too, but only nine riders can make it.”
“Last year we went for stage victories, but this season, having Alejandro must make us more ambitious,” conceeded the Spanish coach. “We’ve got a team full of allrounders around him and, despite having spent three years without riding a GT, with the lack of knowledge about his chances that means, he’s in great condition to be our leader and we’re convinced he can fight for a podium place. It’s obvious that, should we have been able to choose the route, we’d have preferred this Tour to have less kilometers of time trial, because riders like Wiggins, Evans or Menchov can make a massive impact, too difficult to be bounced back, but sometimes the Tour becomes an illogical race, and apart from Valverde, there are some more riders able to make the final podium. All those riders have to chase for their chances and avoid the gap by those 110 kilometers of TT’s.“
The big season made by the squad up to date is another incentive to shine on French soil, according to Movistar Team’s general manager: “We come here with much less pressure than the one you have when things go wrong. We’re doing a splendid season so far, and those 22 victories keep us calm and must be an encouragement in order to keep earning success. Apart from Alejandro, we have strong riders like Cobo, back in a GT after winning in the Vuelta into a race he really loves. I think he’s coming in good form and I expect him to do a good Tour and build on a good base to defend his title in the Vuelta later. Also, riders like Rui Costa or Rojas, which we musn’t charge with responsibility more than what they deserve, but progressing every single year and gaining importance inside the squad. They give us much security because both are young, yet experienced and talented, and alongside others like Kiryienka, Plaza, Karpets, Iván or Erviti, I’m sure we will be protagonists again in this Tour.”