Alejandro Valverde and Mikel Landa to lead Movistar at Milan-San Remo

The Spanish duo is the team’s best hope for the first Monument of the year

Alejandro Valverde will return to Milan-San Remo this weekend (Photo: Yuzuru SUNADA)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Movistar’s hopes of victory at Milan-San Remo rest with Alejandro Valverde and Mikel Landa.

The Spanish duo will lead their team’s efforts at the first Monument of 2019 on Saturday (March 23), as Movistar lacks a pure sprinter.

While Milan-San Remo often falls to the fastest finishers, recent solo attacks have proven the 291km race can be taken by those with a climbing pedigree.

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Reigning world champion Valverde is looking characteristically strong this season, having won a mountain stage and finishing second overall at the UAE Tour earlier this month.

His 2019 schedule sees Valverde return to the Italian Monument for the first time since 2016, finishing 15th which is his career best for the race.

It will be his seventh time in the race.

Valverde’s attributes could suit an outside chance at victory in the longest one-day race on the WorldTour calendar.

Last year’s solo victory by Vincenzo Nibali, after an attack on the Poggio, shows that a strong climber can deny the sprinters.

Valverde is traditionally stronger in the Ardennes Classics, having won Liège-Bastogne-Liège four times and Flèche Wallone five times.

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Landa’s chances are slimmer, as the former Team Sky rider returns to the peloton after almost two months away from racing.

The 29-year-old crashed on his first time out this season at the Challenge Mallorca in January, suffering a broken collarbone.

He has been out for 53 days due to injury and will make his return at Milan-San Remo.

Both Landa and Valverde will ride the Giro d’Italia as joint Movistar leaders this season.

Other favourites for this year’s Milan-San Remo include Bora-Hansgrohe duo Peter Sagan and Sam Bennett, Lotto-Soudal’s Caleb Ewan, Elia Viviani (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) and Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates).

Vincenzo Nibali will also return to defend his title.

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