Movistar Team wins the 2016 UCI WorldTour
Alejandro Valverde's 6th place in Il Lombardia confirms a record-setting fourth victory for Movistar Team in the UCI WorldTour ranking, a success achieved through enormous efforts during ten long months of racing in three continents
It was difficult, as in every single previous season. And still, the Movistar Team made it possible with enormous dedication, commitment and team spirit to overcome all kinds of difficulties. The squad managed by Eusebio Unzué finished on top of the UCI ranking for the seventh time in its four-decade history after completing Il Lombardia, the last event of the WorldTour, with a 6th spot for an ever-dependable Alejandro Valverde. The 110-point advantage (1471 vs 1361) against Tinkoff confirmed the fourth consecutive title for the Telefónica-sponsored squad -beating the record-tied three triumphs both the Spanish outfit and CSC held-, also becoming the fifth success in just twelve years under the current competition system and points scale (2008, 2013-16).
The points achieved by Nairo Quintana (609, runner-up to Peter Sagan), Valverde (4th, with 436), Ion Izagirre (11th; 270), Rubén Fernández (88) and Andrey Amador (68) were a result of the work by more than 60 people and almost thirty different partners during a long, grueling season, starting back in January with events in Australia and Argentina – and set to finish in just thee weeks' time after the Doha Worlds and the Abu Dhabi Tour. A Grand Tour overall success (the Vuelta a España, with Nairo); podiums in the Giro -led by Amador-, Tour or Tour de Suisse; prestigious wins in Flèche Wallonne, Catalunya, Romandie; and steady growth by the youngsters, especially Rubén Fernández -GC leader in the Vuelta-, Soler, Arcas or late-season sensation Sütterlin, defined an ever-consistent, successful season. It was only overshadowed by multiple injuries, especially those by Castroviejo and Adriano Malori, who claimed a victory no other can match: his return to life and competition following a horrible accident in the Tour de San Luis, which almost ended his whole existence.
Regarding the 'Race of the Fallen Leaves' itself, the Movistar Team rode with determination as they started picking up the pace already at the first serious climbs -Berbenno, Sant'Antonio Abbandonato- of a hellish finale to the 241km course between Como and Bérgamo. The work by Dayer Quintana and Winner Anacona was continued by Giovanni Visconti and Alejandro Valverde, who jumped off the front as the decisive, 16-man move started to form and later tried to keep gaps short, as Chaves (OBE), Rosa (AST) and Urán (CDT), the three podium finishers, launched the crucial attack alongside Bardet (ALM) in the Selvino ascent, just over 30km from the end. Valverde won the pursuit group's sprint, as Visconti took 14th place.
Eusebio Unzué: "I'll end up believing we're the best team in the world after all! Winning the WorldTour team ranking for the fourth year straight is a good tribute to the constance by this whole team for the entire season, in both good and bad moments. And it's increasingly difficult to win this, as we always have to beat tremendous groups – Tinkoff or Sky this year – that always excel, in every single race. Already in Australia we were taking points with Rubén, and thanks to Nairo Quintana's consistence, Alejandro Valverde's talent or a splendid season by Ion Izagirre, as well as brilliant performances by Rubén Fernández, Andrey Amador and so many others, we could win this classification once again. It's always another goal for us, and fulfiling it is a huge satisfaction. It's a reward to a way of doing things and tackling every race with focus and intensity. You will hardly be able to find a race where a Movistar Team hasn't been contesting the top places. Of course, I want to thank all of our staff, who hold a big share of this victory, as well as all of our partners, crucial for our team to do their job in the best possible conditions."