Tour de France
Unzué, Valverde and Cobo speak to the media 24 hours before the start of a race tackled ambitiously by Movistar Team
Early on Friday morning, just before doing the recon of the difficult finish in Seraing on stage one of the race, the Movistar Team’s main references spoke to the media at the Salle de Presse du Tour de France in Liège in order to calibrate their feeling with just over 24 hours prior to the start of the Grande Boucle. The two leaders on the road by the telephone squad, Alejandro Valverde and Juanjo Cobo, plus their general manager Eusebio Unzué, responded questions for over half an hour to the numerous reporters present at the event. The Spanish coach was the first one to intervene and remarked the special event this Grand Départ means for the Blue squad: “It’s a big joy for us, coming back here after more than 30 years. We haven’t missed this race since 1983 and it’s a privilege to be at the Tour start once again“.
Unzué showed optimistic towards the team’s chances into a race where Movistar Team comes in calm mood after 22 victories earned throughout the season, already one more than in 2011: “The first thing we’re satisfied of is that we came in perfect conditions to the start of this Tour. We are bringing two riders able to perform well in a three-week stagerace. Alejandro won the last GT he took the start in (2009) and Juanjo did the same in last year’s Vuelta. With all those things in mind, we can’t think other than trying to be at the Tour podium this year. The quality and experience from both give us confidence to do so.”
In turn, Alejandro Valverde underlined his great physical and mental condition to face, four years after his last appearance, a new edition of the Grande Boucle: “I think all team riders come here strong. We know it has been a three-Tour lapse without competing, but I know I’m OK and my only doubt is how I will react into a long, three-week event, especially in the last week. There are two favourites a bit above the rest, Wiggins and Evans, but afterwards there’s a small group of riders into a similar level. Personally, I come to this “kilometer zero” with much willingness and excitement to do well. We’re strong and I’m sure we will do a great Tour. It’s obvious that this year’s route, with 100k of time trials, isn’t the most appropiate one for me, but the Tour isn’t just those two days., We’ll try to defend well there and gain some terrain at the rest, so many stages ahead where everything can happen.“
Juanjo Cobo, really confident about his physical form, will be absolutely committed to Valverde into a race he doesn’t take part since 2008, when he had to retire halfway through the Tour while sitting in 8th place overall after winning atop Hautacam’s summit: “I think my condition is rather good. By the few days of racing I have completed and I how I performed there, it might seem I’m not OK, but the team has kept me calm and I want to reward them back here for that confidence. I think that my body will get to 100% as the Tour advances and my biggest goal, and also a big responsibility, is being close to Alejandro as much as possible. I want to help him get onto the podium because he proved he’s perfectly capable doing that. I don’t mind being sixth, eighth, tenth: it’s just helping him when he needs it.”