Team Movistar wants Valverde, is also interested in Contador
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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Team Movistar wants Valverde, is also interested in Contador

by Shane Stokes at 5:27 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Unzue speaks about future captaincy of team

Alejandro ValverdeTeam Movistar, which until the start of this season raced under the Caisse d’Epargne title and backing, has confirmed that it is interested in re-signing former rider Alejandro Valverde.

The Spanish all rounder competed within the team structure since 2005, winning races such as the Vuelta a España, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Flèche Wallonne, the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré and three stages of the Tour de France. He was also the UCI’s ProTour champion in 2006 and 2008. He was however suspended in relation to Operación Puerto last May, and is blocked from competing again until January 1st 2012.

Valverde has maintained his links with the team, training earlier this year with the squad in Majorca. General manager Eusebio Unzue has now reiterated that he wants him back. “Because of our personal and professional relations and also because of his knowledge of our structure, Valverde will be with us again next year,” he predicted to El Diario de Navarra.

Unzue conceded that it is not a certainty, but said that the team would do what it could to ensure he is wearing its colours in 2012. “Valverde is one of the greats and he will be on the list of several other teams, of course. The riders of a certain level are of interest to many teams. On our part, we are trying to help Alejandro during this year and a half of suspension so that he doesn’t lose his brilliance, and then we hope to find an agreement for his return.

Valverde joined up with the team in February for training, and said afterwards that he was happy to have done so. “I called Eusebio Unzúe [Movistar general manager] and he gave me the opportunity to come here and train with my former team-mates,” he explained. “I am very happy about the chance I received to ride with the riders of the team. It is also very nice to live again things from inside a team.”

“To see them again was really something great, a moment of happiness for them and for me. To spend those days with them was very important to me because I experienced again how it feels to make part of a team. After such a long time without seeing them, it was a fantastic feeling.”

Unzue has long stated that he would also like another Spaniard on his team. Alberto Contador is known to have been weighing up the options of several teams during the 2009 season, including Unzue’s squad, but ultimately he was unable to extricate himself from his Astana contract. Valverde’s suspension made it even more attractive for the team to sign a strong Spanish leader, but a delay in finding a replacement sponsor for Caisse d’Epargne foiled those plans. He then went to Saxo Bank SunGard, and is building ties with Bjarne Riis there.

“Sure I would like that [to sign him],” Unzue said. “But now he has to clarify his situation, and he is a rider with a two-year contract. In the short and medium term, it is complicated.”

The team lacks a clear leader in 2011, although it does have strong riders such as Xavier Tondo and 2010 Giro d’Italia runner-up David Arroyo.


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