Juanjo Cobo will try to defend last year's title in the Spanish grandtour, helped by Alejandro Valverde and a strong block completed by Intxausti, Quintana, Moreno, Castroviejo, Lastras, Erviti and Rojas
The reigning champion of the Vuelta a España, Juanjo Cobo, will defend in Pamplona from this Saturday his victory in the last edition of the event. The Spanish grandtour reaches its 67th edition in 2012 as the Movistar Team rider wears the bib number 1, leading a telephone squad also including their other GC winner in the race, Alejandro Valverde. Surrounding the two big Blue starts will be seven strong riders for the three weeks of a race that promises to be absolutely exciting. They will be Beñat Intxausti, Nairo Quintana, Javi Moreno, Jonathan Castroviejo, Pablo Lastras, Imanol Erviti and José Joaquín Rojas, with Vladimir Karpets as reserve rider for any last-minute contingency.
Movistar Team will try to continue their winning streak in Grand Tours –they won stages in the two Giros, the two Tours and the Vuelta they have ridden with the Blue jersey since 2011- and fight for their first overall victory –it would be the fourth for Eusebio Unzué’s structure after Delgado (’89), Olano (’98) and Valverde (’09)- in a three-week stagerace. The telephone squad’s general manager dissects a block that will be led by Directeur Sportif’s José Luis Arrieta and José Luis Jaimerena:
“This is our biggest goal of the season, together with the Tour. I think we’re bringing a quite compact team, with all riders in good shape. At the start, our expectations are to be on the overall podium. The strong field of contestants makes us be cautious to think about winning, but obviously, we can’t rule it out. We start with Juanjo Cobo as team lead. Last year, he proved he can fight for a Grand Tour as he beat a strong rider like Froome, who could have been the Tour winner this season. After that, there’s a question mark over Alejandro, who already has a huge season schedule on his legs, but his willingness and the brilliance he always brings to the squad makes us sure he will be making another effort to fight for a stage victory, to say the least. For the rest, we have qualified people for all terrains, such as Rojas, Moreno, Erviti, Castroviejo or Pablo Lastras, who will be absolutely important in this Vuelta. We’re hoping Intxausti to confirm himself and see how far one of the revelations of the season, Nairo Quintana, can get here.
“The route is a strong gamble for spectacle, searching for hard finishes that always guarantee a race breaking up, and with only a time trial that, though important, won’t be so decisive, even if Froome and Alberto, the best timetrialling climbers, take some gap over the rest. Apart from us, they will be the biggest candidates, but surely another ‘Froome’ not on the initial polls can show up and fight for it, and if you count Igor Antón, Purito, Van den Broeck, Gesink, Urán and all the others, this Vuelta must become a really big race.”