Abarca Sports reaches four decades of uninterrupted existence
Men’s and women’s squads supported by Movistar announce their plans at Madrid’s Telefónica HQ to start their 40th year of activity, a huge milestone for Eusebio Unzué’s outfit as the longest-standing structure in professional cycling.
The Auditorium of Telefónica’s global headquarters in Madrid was again the venue for Tuesday’s 2019 launch of the Movistar Team, an outfit which will start their 40th consecutive season of professional activity in just under a month’s time. The Abarca Sports organisation has been present in cycling uninterruptedly since 1980.
The 37 rider of the men’s and women’s squads, under coordination from general manager Eusebio Unzué, have been presented in front of media, VIPs and Telefónica employees at a packed Auditorium, with live footage available across Spain through #Vamos, the sports channel exclusive to customers of the Movistar+ platform. The reigning World road race Champion, Alejandro Valverde, received a very warm welcome on stage of an event also attended by all of the Blue squad’s biggest names, such as Nairo Quintana, Mikel Landa, Marc Soler, Mavi García, Eider Merino, Sheyla Gutiérrez and Richard Carapaz.
Eusebio Unzué took advantage from his time on stage to again thank Telefónica’s support to the team, as well as outlining their plans for next years, which include aiming again at a Grand Tour success in 2019. Having got all of his leaders together for the 2018 Tour de France, the Blues have chosen to distribute its forces next season into all three GTs. This way. Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde will be racing the Giro; Quintana and Landa will be the main names for the Tour; and two Vuelta a España winners (Valverde and Quintana) will try to repeat their success in Spain. It will be a very special season for Valverde, who will honour the rainbow jersey at the biggest classics of the calendar.
Expectations are high for both the men’s team and the 12-rider Movistar women’s team. Last year’s resounding success for the group managed by Sebastián Unzué and Jorge Sanz -up to 15 victories, including five National Championships and international overall podiums in France and Belgium- have helped them reach a spot within the fifteen teams with the right to race at all events of the UCI Women’s WorldTour, a provision that will be officially sealed in early January 2019.
Telefónica’s global partnership manager Rafael Fernández de Alarcón explained on the reasons of the very recent extension of their sponsorship agreement through the end of 2021: “We share values such as a teamwork, respect, fair play and generosity to all fans”, he said, as he also thanked the riders for all their displays of affection to the public, especially in moments of real stress and physical wear.
The brand’s Chief Data Officer, Chema Alonso, offered two demonstrations on the importance of Big Data and cognitive research in cycling, for both training planning and racing analysis. As a very illustrative example, data was shown on the intensity and speed figures reached by Alejandro Valverde in his World Championship victory in Austria last September. All information on the initiative is gathered at this website.
The Movistar Team’s 2019 season will start at the Tour Down Under in Australia for its men’s team (January 13-20), with the women’s squad set to kick off their calendar at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana (February 10). The riders will cover more than 300 racing days across nearly twenty countries in Latin America, Asia, Oceania, North America and Europe, including the whole Spanish pro calendar, which spans 125 days of competition. To fulfil their goals, both teams will share identical resources and technical materials, as well as a partnership program which features 30 top-tier brands again trusting both Movistar Team teams in 2019.
Together with those will be one of the biggest fan bases in the entire peloton. The Movistar Team continues to be the WorldTour’s second most followed team, with 1.7 million fans across their social profiles on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, combined with an official website (www.movistarteam.com) that will remain as the main source of news and updates from cycling’s longest-standing team.
MOVISTAR TEAM – 2019 ROSTERS
Men’s Team: Andrey Amador (CRC), Winner Anacona (COL), Jorge Arcas, Carlos Barbero, Daniele Bennati (ITA), Carlos Betancur (COL), Richard Carapaz (ECU), Héctor Carretero, Jaime Castrillo, Imanol Erviti, Rubén Fernández, Mikel Landa, Lluís Mas, Nelson Oliveira (POR), Antonio Pedrero, Edu Prades, Nairo Quintana (COL), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL), José Joaquín Rojas, Eduardo Sepúlveda (ARG), Marc Soler, Jasha Sütterlin (GER), Rafa Valls, Alejandro Valverde, Carlos Verona. Sports Directors: José Luis Arrieta, Chente García Acosta, José Luis Jaimerena, Pablo Lastras, Maximilian Sciandri (ITA).
Women’s Team: Aude Biannic (FRA), Roxane Fournier (FRA), Mavi García, Alicia González, Sheyla Gutiérrez, Malgorzata Jasinska (POL), Lorena Llamas, Eider Merino, Lourdes Oyarbide, Paula Patiño (COL), Gloria Rodríguez, Alba Teruel. Manager: Sebastián Unzué. Sports Director: Jorge Sanz.
– 2019 signings in italic.