Movistar’s crazy Tour de France talk

Valverde is Tour crazy

“Nothing is off the table,” says Movistar boss Eusebio Unzué. “We’ll wait to see what the Giro comes up with, but why not have all three at the Tour? It’s possible the Tour might be the first grand tour of the season for all three of them.”

Hoo-boy. That would be crazy stuff, right? Nairo Quintana, Alejandro Valverde and Mikel Landa all lined up for Le Grand Shindig. The very idea would cause Sky boss David Brailsford to break out in hives. It would scramble all their elegant and careful algorithms for Chris Froome winning a fifth Tour.

Valverde is apparently crazy in love with the Tour route — the cobbles, the gravel roads, the wacky first week in windy Brittany. He’s so excited he’s rethinking his Giro-Vuelta plans. The man wants to crack the Sky juggernaut. “Why not have myself, Nairo and Mikel race the Tour?” Valverde said. “It would be a lot of fun.”

In fact, it’s hard to tell who at Movistar is pushing the idea more. Unzué is intrigued by the possibility and Quintana is always happy to have more climbers around but it sounds like Valverde is the one who’s the most jazzed.

“Imagine having the three of us, backed up by five strong riders, I think we could really light up the race,” said Valverde. “With the way this Tour route looks, I really like it, and I think it could be very interesting to have all three leaders there. We’ll see.”

Yup, interesting as Hell. However, as Andy Hood at Velonews pointed out, putting all your eggs in one one grand tour basket might be awesome or you might just end up with a French omelet and no maillot jaune. It’s bold, it’s daring, it’s unlikely to happen. It’s one of those cycling pipe dreams that people float in the off-season.

 

Mikel Landa will take on the Giro d’Italia as the one and only Movistar captain. He didn’t just spend years putting aside his personal ambitions for Fabio Aru at Astana and Chris Froome at Sky to do the same for Quintana at Movistar.

That said, the only possible scenario for a Movistar showing of the Three Amigos depends on Landa’s mood right after the Giro. Should he actually win the Italian grand tour, he’ll be feeling pretty bubbly. Under those circumstances — with his first grand tour overall victory in the bag — he might feel generous enough to ride shotgun for Quintana in the Tour.

“I want to race the Tour. I am not going to deny it,” said Landa. “I still have to see what the best for the team. We are waiting to see the Giro route.” Yes, that would be the other variable. If the Giro folks dump in a ton of time trial kilometers (welcome back, Tom Dumoulin!) then perhaps Landa will move to the Tour with the secret hope of winning team leadership should Quintana falter.

The Colombia has had his troubles in the last two Tours, struggling in the winds and cold weather in the opening ten days in 2016 and then failing miserably in his 2017Giro-Tour double attempt. Well, at least the French part.

 

“Having Mikel on the team will only make us stronger,” said Quintana said. “We’ve always had the assurance of Alejandro, so with Mikel, it makes the block of the team as strong as any in the peloton. Mikel can help us when it comes time to attack.”

The question of Movistar is, will that be one rider attacking, two riders, or all three? Sounds like fun, sounds like drama, sounds unlikely.

 

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