Abarca Sports celebrates four decades in the peloton
Eusebio Unzué’s squads reach their 40th consecutive season of activity -its backing recently extended by Telefónica through the end of 2021-, with a promising women’s team into its second year together with Valverde, Soler, Quintana, Landa and Carapaz as main names of the men’s WorldTour outfit.
Gardel once sang that “Veinte años no es nada” (‘Twenty years aren’t anything’). However, 40 years, for such a particular sport as cycling, are as much long as heroic. The team which started as a grassroots initiative under the Nuevo Legarra and Irurzungo names, and later on transformed into Reynolds to start its pro adventure in 1980, now fulfils its first four decades of uninterrupted existence. And from all those squads (Banesto, Illes Balears, Caisse d’Epargne and, last but not least, the Movistar Team), two now keep that legacy well alive: the European, pro men’s outfit -the only active for each and every of those 40 years- and the women’s team, which will race the biggest events in the WorldTour after earning a well-deserved place last year. The ladies have brought the most legendary current squad in cycling an influx of excitement and modernity few other actions could have helped with better.
The men’s Movistar Team starts this new year wearing the rainbow jersey with Alejandro Valverde, and raring to go with a roster that again mixes experience and youth perfectly. Carapaz (confirmed for the Giro), Landa (Giro + Tour), Quintana (Tour + Vuelta) and Marc Soler (Tour) will join the World Champion (Giro + Vuelta) at the most renowned stageraces. Before that, the marvel from Murcia will ‘duplicate’ himself as no other rider can do, seeking for glory into the classics – includin the Ronde van Vlaanderen, where he will finally make his debut just before turning 39. Two of the team’s additions for this year -a younger Spaniard, Lluís Mas, and Belgian veteran Jürgen Roelandts– could join Valverde in such a challenge, with Erviti, Arcas, Bennati, Carretero and Sütterlin also ready to be of good support.
Two outstanding allrounders, Carlos Verona and Edu Prades, complete the list of signings for the Blues, who will remain as strong as ever in the mountains. World-class domestiques for all terrains, such as Amador, Rojas and Oliveira, will combine with more traditional climbers like Pedrero, Sepúlveda, Valls, Rubén Fernández, Betancur and Anacona. The 25-man list also includes a good sprinter, Carlos Barbero, and a great youngster, Jaime Castrillo, in his second pro season.
On the other hand, the women’s Movistar Team -now featuring Sebastián Unzué as manager and Jorge Sanz always at the wheel of DS; Max Sciandri joins the men’s management team- includes three new faces: a top-tier classics rider and fast woman, such as Sheyla Gutiérrez; a world-class sprinter in France’s Roxane Fournier; and the young Paula Patiño, who will add a Latin taste to a roster which includes no less than eight Spaniards. Strong climbers like García, Llamas and Merino; rouleurs of high caliber in Biannic, Oyarbide, Rodríguez and Teruel; and the strong all-rounding names of González and Jasińska are the rest of a 37-athlete list supported by more than fourty staff members.
Pictures (c): Photo Gomez Sport / Movistar Team