Movistar emphasises Vuelta leadership role is for Cobo
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Monday, August 13, 2012

Movistar emphasises Vuelta leadership role is for Cobo

by VeloNation Press at 4:48 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Vuelta a España
 
Unzué expresses uncertainty about Valverde’s form

Juan Jose CoboSeveral days after Alejandro Valverde appeared to play down any thoughts of him leading the Movistar team in the Vuelta a España, the 2009 winner saying he would instead ride for last year’s champion Juan Jose Cobo, general manager Eusebio Unzué has explained the likely strategy.

“This is our biggest goal of the season, together with the Tour. I think we're bringing a quite compact team, with all riders in good shape,” he said. “At the start, our expectations are to be on the overall podium. The strong field of contestants makes us be cautious to think about winning, but obviously, we can't rule it out.

“We will start with Juanjo Cobo as team leader. Last year, he proved he can fight for a Grand Tour as he beat a strong rider like [Team Sky’s Chris] Froome, who could have been the Tour winner this season. After that, there's a question mark over Alejandro [Valverde], who already has a huge season schedule on his legs, but his willingness and the brilliance he always brings to the squad makes us sure he will be making another effort to fight for a stage victory, to say the least.”

Valverde returned to competition the year after a lengthy break from racing, a consequence of his ban relating to Operacion Puerto. While he showed form right away with a stage win and second overall to Simon Ferrans (GreenEdge) in the Santos Tour Down Under, he hasn’t returned to his former peak.

He returned to the Tour de France but wasn’t in the fight for the overall win, instead finishing twentieth and taking a stage win. While Cobo was even further back, placing thirtieth, the team appears confident that he will be in the right shape to challenge for a top three or better.

Unzué is satisfied with the strength of the rest of the team, believing that they will be able to support Cobo and Valverde, As for the race itself, he predicts it could be a very exciting edition.

“The route is a strong gamble for spectacle, searching for hard finishes that always guarantee a race breaking up, and with only a time trial that, though important, won't be so decisive. [That’s] even if Froome and Alberto, the best timetrialling climbers, open a gap over the rest.

“Apart from us, they will be the biggest candidates, but surely another 'Froome' not in the initial list can show up and fight for it. If you count Igor Antón, Purito, Van den Broeck, Gesink, Urán and all the others, this Vuelta must become a really big race.”

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