Movistar abandon ‘trident’ Tour de France tactic as Alejandro Valverde due to miss 2019 race

The Spanish team have confirmed their leaders of next year’s three-week races

Movistar will abandon their triple-header approach to the Tour de France in 2019.

The Spanish WorldTour team backed three horses in this year’s Tour, with the aim of pressuring rivals with multiple threats.

But the tactic came up short, as Movistar failed to propel any of their leaders to the top step in Grand Tours.

The team have now confirmed which Grand Tours their leaders will be racing.

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Nairo Quintana will ride the Tour and the Vuelta a España, Alejandro Valverde the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta, and Mikel Landa will line up at the Giro and the Tour.

Movistar fielded Quintana, Landa and Valverde as their ‘trident’ leadership in the 2018 Tour, in the hopes of countering Team Sky’s domination of the race.

The approach fell short of its potential – Landa was the highest placed finisher overall in seventh, while Quintana scored the only stage success and finished 10th on general classification.

Team Sky’s Geraint Thomas took a surprise overall win, despite the team backing Chris Froome for leader throughout the race.

Movistar then sent Quintana and Valverde to the Vuelta to maximise their chances of success

Valverde proved himself the strongest for the team in the Spanish Grand Tour, picking up two stages and sitting second overall until the penultimate day.

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But the Spaniard faltered on the last mountains of the race and fell off the podium down to fifth overall, while Quintana finished eighth.

The approach contrasted with that of Vuelta winners Mitchelton-Scott, who went all in for Brit Simon Yates who took his first Grand Tour victory in Spain, skilfully fending off attacks from Quintana and Valverde.

Movistar’s strongest Grand Tour performance in 2018 was in the Giro, where 25-year-old Richard Carapaz finished fourth, taking a stage victory at Montevergine di Mercogliano on the eighth day.

The disappointing Grand Tour year for Movistar has clearly prompted a new approach, with the team riding for two leaders in each three-week race.