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"As we head into the start, we don't have any reasons why we shouldn't think about fighting for the overall win with Alejandro. We think he recovered well from the efforts in the Tour and is perfectly fit to achieve it,&qu...

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ALEJANDRO VALVERDE

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BEÑAT INTXAUSTI

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EROS CAPECCHI

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IMANOL ERVITI

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JAVIER MORENO BAZAN

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JOSÉ HERRADA LÓPEZ

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JOSÉ IVAN GUTIERREZ PALACIOS

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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PABLO LASTRAS

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SYLVESTER SZMYD

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VUELTA A ESPAÑA

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19.08.2013 @ 13:13 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Movistar will line up at the Vuelta a Espana with one clear objective: a second overall win for team captain Alejandro Valverde. The team has selected a dedicated team to support him and with Eros Capecchi, Sylwester Szmyd, Benat Intxausti, Jose Herrada and Javier Moreno, the team has covered all its bases in the many mountain stages.

 

Alejandro Valverde has designed his season schedule with two clear targets in mind: the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana. He missed out on a podium spot in the French grand tour due to bad luck on the stage to Saint-Armand-Montrond and now he is firmly focussed on making up for that disappointment in his home race.

 

The Spaniard cannot complain of a lack of team support as his Movistar team has selected a very strong roster that will be fully dedicated to their captain. Valverde won the race in 2009 and has not finished worse than 5th in his 6 participations since his breakthrough in the 2003 edition of the race. Last year he was 2nd behind Alberto Contador and won two stages and the green points jersey.

 

With 11 uphill finishes, it is no surprise that the roster is loaded with climbers. Benat Intxausti is set to play the role of key lieutenant, having already finished 10th last year while also working for his captain. His 8th place and stage win at the Giro are just the most recent testaments to his capabilities and he will be a very strong ally for Valverde.

 

Eros Capecchi was hampered by allergies in the Giro but appears to be getting into form for his second grand tour. He recently finished 6th in the Tour de Pologne and appears to have hit peak condition for his role as support rider for Valverde.

 

Speaking of support riders, few are more capable in that role than Sylwester Szmyd. The Pole had a horrible first part of the season, missing out on the Tour as a consequence, but his recent performance in the Vuelta a Burgos suggests that he is finally close to the level that has marked him out as one of the best mountain domestiques in the world.

 

Jose Herrada and Javier Moreno complete the team of climbers and both have had a solid season so far. The former was strong in the mountains in the Giro while the latter was on fire in the early part of the season, finishing 2nd in the WorldTour Tour Down Under.

 

Imanol Erviti and Jose Ivan Gutierrez will offer their usual reliable support on the flat stages while Pablo Lastras made it onto the roster despite being disqualified from the recent Eneco Tour. The veteran will play a crucial role as capitain du route as the team inspires to win the race overall and continue its winning streak that has allowed it to win stages in all 8 grand tours it has contested since Movistar took over as main sponsor.

 

"As we head into the start, we don't have any reasons why we shouldn't think about fighting for the overall win with Alejandro," manage Eusebio Unzue said. "We think he recovered well from the efforts in the Tour and is perfectly fit to achieve it. Looking for him to get a bit fresher for the start of the Vuelta, we already ruled him out of some early-season races, so he could stay strong in both the Tour and the Vuelta - that's why we're confident he'll keep up."

 

"He will be our only GC leader, and will have a strong and balanced team by his side," he added. "Riders that already shone in the Giro, such as Beñat, Capecchi, Herrada and Lastras, who had time to recover and get back on the up; Iván and Imanol, who already rode with Alejandro in the Tour; plus, Javier Moreno and Szmyd, who did not take part in any Grand Tours yet this season. All of them are experienced and strong enough, in all terrains."

 

With 11 uphill finishes, the course is very selective. The penultimate stage finishes on the feared Angliru climb and unsurprisingly, Unzue points to that stage as one of the key days.

 

"The route of this year's Vuelta will be similar to last year's, yet having two long, tough stages in the Pyrenees that will probably make the difference," he said. "Also Granada and the Angliru should play a significant role in the race - the other mountain-top finishes might not create such big gaps between the GC contenders."

 

Speaking of race favourites, Unzue points to Giro winner Vincezo Nibali as the man to beat.

 

"Just like in previous editions, the field of race favourites is big and strong," he said. "Nibali might be the most solid rider coming into the start, with his great palmarès in all three Grand Tours recently. Still, I think Alejandro and Purito [Joaquim Rodriguez] will be close enough to make things difficult for him. Also, riders like Samuel [Sanchez], Colombians [Rigoberto] Urán, [Sergio] Henao and [Carlos] Betancur, who we will be putting an eye on, or [Roman] Kreuziger, who is having a great season so far."

 

The Vuelta starts on Saturday with a team time trial in Galicia.

 

Movistar for the Vuelta a Espana

Alejandro Valverde, Eros Capecchi, Benat Intxausti, Sylwester Szmyd, Jose Herrada, Javier Moreno, Pablo Lastras Imanol Erviti and Jose Ivan Gutierrez

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