Who is really leading Movistar at the Giro d’Italia?

Both Movistar are riders Alejandro Valverde and Andrey Amador are in the top three of the Giro d'Italia overall, but who is really leading the team?

Movistar, which placed two on the podium behind Team Sky’s Chris Froome in the 2015 Tour de France last year, knows the importance of numbers.

Mid-way into the Giro d’Italia, after the close of stage 11 in Asolo, Movistar has Andrey Amador sitting second and Alejandro Valverde third and says that both riders are leading the team’s efforts for the overall title.

>>> Giro d’Italia 2016: Key info, route, contenders

Luxembourger Bob Jungels (Etixx–Quick-Step) currently leads the race by 24 seconds over Costa Rican Amador and Spaniard Valverde.

Movistar have made duel leadership work before. Last year in the Tour, Valverde placed third overall with Colombian teammate Nairo Quintana second.

“Having both him and Alejandro up front has its advantages,” Team Manager Eusebio Unzué told Cycling Weekly in Asolo, metres away from the finish line where Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) won.

“They are both the leaders. There are only a few that are up there in the overall group and we want to keep our riders there, then we will see when we get to the big mountain stage on Saturday. Right now, they are both going well and always in the favourites group.”

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Amador, fourth overall in the 2015 Giro, attacked in the final kilometres of the stage for both the stage win and the pink jersey. Race leader Jungels bridged to him immediately, and Ulissi followed. Amador’s move, however, raised flags among some followers.

“He tried to gain time on Jungels. He took some time on the other rivals, so that’s good,” added Unzué. “Does it not bother Alejandro? No. He’s happy for it too. It’s good for him to have Amador up there, it’s better than not having him.”

“When Andrey attacked today, I pulled my brakes,” 36-year-old Valverde said. “He went free with Jungels, that’s good for the team.”

Valverde practically grew up in Unzué’s Spanish team. He won the Vuelta in 2009 and took five other podium places in Grand Tours. This year, he has his best chance at winning the Giro, but his own teammate could stop him if he proves to be stronger.

“Were still both there, [we] don’t have to think about one is going to work for one or the other,” Valverde said.

“Last year, he was fourth. He’s going very well, he’s in form. We still have to get to mountains, but it’s clear, he’s one that’s up there and ready to attack in the mountains. We are second and third, so it’s the others who are going to have to attack us.”

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