Alejandro Valverde will take to the Vuelta a España start in Salinas de Torrevieja as a nominal co-leader of Movistar, but rather than mount an overall challenge, the 2009 winner will target stage victories at the year’s final Grand Tour.
With reigning champion Simon Yates absent from the start list, Valverde’s status as world champion means he’ll wear the number one on his back. There’s no pressure for him to fight for the top places in the general classification, however, even if he might end up there or thereabouts.
“The Vuelta is the race he likes the most, and if he gets results, great,” Movistar directeur sportif José Luis Arrieta told Marca. “For Alejandro, what we would like is that he has a good time on the bike, especially this year with the [rainbow] jersey.”
Perhaps more than any other team, Movistar have become known for bringing multiple leaders to Grand Tours and letting the road take care of things from there.
As they did at the past two editions of the Tour de France, the Spanish team has once again gone with three team leaders in the shape of Valverde, Giro d’Italia winner Richard Carapaz, and 2016 Vuelta champion Nairo Quintana, with the latter two men both racing their final Grand Tour for the team before moving to Team Ineos and Arkéa-Samsic, respectively.
At the Tour, where Mikel Landa took Carapaz’s place in the triumvirate, the plan was largely the same – for Valverde to target stage wins rather than ride for overall position. He ended up in ninth overall – his 18th Grand Tour top ten placing.
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