Movistar. Froome’s Spanish worry.
As much as we’re not fans of the unrepentant “done nothing wrong” Alejandro Valverde, we have to admit his Movistar Tour squad is seriously stacked.
The aging Green bullet will have Tour de Suisse winner Rui Costa and the new hotshot Colombian climber Nairo Quintana who won the Tour of the Basque Country. That’s some major wattage for the Pyrenees and Alps. It’s like a Spanish-speaking version of Team Sky.
We don’t know what Valverde has in the tank for this Tour and his season has been somewhat quiet. However, both Costa and Quintana are sure to be putting on a show.
Tour de France favorite Chris Froome said as much today in a pre-Tour media gathering in Nice. While he knows the obvious adversaries are Alberto Contador of Saxo Bank Tinkoff, BMC’s Cadel Evans and Tejay Van Garderen and guys like Hesjedal and Joaquin Rodriguez, he went out of his way to name check the Movistars.
“I can see that we’ll face some big teams that will have some big riders as leaders. I think we should also include the Movistar team in the mix because they’ll have Quintana and Valverde,” said Froome.
This could also be a recognition that the one thing that upsets the Sky machine are the unpredictable attacks and unscripted events. The Spaniards don’t always attack in the obvious location on the marked out stages. That’s how Contador beat Rodriguez in the Vuelta and how Nibali beat Froome in Tirreno Adriatico. Movistar equals madman variable.
What we’re all hoping is that the 100th edition of the Tour de France doesn’t look anything like the 99th version, Sky crushing rivals with insane tempo in mountains, slowly destroying all hope of an opportunity to escape.
All the teams have had a year to review that script and the smart ones like Garmin-Sharp and the hot blooded ones like Katusha and Movistar will be ready to strike whenever the weather turns bad, the descents get slippery and the attention of Sky wavers for a second.
While we dislike Valverde as a cynical doper and leftover from the dark ages, we do expect Movistar to attack often and early. That’s a good thing.