Movistar have confirmed their line-up for the 2019 Tour de France, with Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa set to lead the team. World champion Alejandro Valverde is also confirmed in the line-up, but is likely to play a support role.
The Spanish team went in to the 2018 Tour with a three-way leadership between their big name riders, but failed to make a significant impact in the general classification fight, with Nairo Quintana’s summit finish win to Col du Portet the saving grace.
Quintana, a three-time podium finisher at the Tour, has made the race his main focus this season, while Landa will follow up a ride at the Giro d’Italia with a tilt at the Tour.
Landa finished fourth overall in the Italian Grand Tour, while Quintana has been in the mix in races so far this season, taking second at Paris-Nice and fourth at the Volta a Catalunya, but could only muster ninth place at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June.
Movistar were victorious through Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz at the Giro last month, taking their first Grand Tour title since winning the 2016 Vuelta a España with Quintana.
Supporting Landa and Quintana with Valverde will be former Paris-Nice winner Marc Soler, Spaniards Imanol Erviti and Carlos Verona, along with Costa Rica’s Andrey Amador and Portugal’s Nelson Oliveira.
The team is unsurprisingly stacked with climbing talent to take on one of the highest Tours in years, with frequent visits over 2,000m in the Pyrenees and the Alps, including five summit finishes.
A crucial early point for the team will be the team time trial on day two in Brussels, Belgium, where the Tour has its Grand Départ this year. The 27km course will favour the powerful time triallists, with the team likely to rely on four-time Portuguese national time trial champion Oliveira and 25-year-old Soler to guide them through without losing too much time.
Landa and Quintana will also face another 27km against the clock on stage 13 in Pau, this time on their own as they’ll hope to stay in contention heading into the final week of action in the Alps.
Their last opportunity in the mountains at the Tour will be the summit finish to the ski resort of Val Thorens on stage 20, which tops out at 2.365m.
The 2019 Tour de France begins in Brussels, Belgium on July 6 and ends in Paris on July 28.
Movistar Team line-up for the 2019 Tour de France
Nairo Quintana (Col)
Mikel Landa (Esp)
Alejandro Valverde (Esp)
Imanol Erviti (Esp)
Marc Soler (Esp)
Carlos Verona (Esp)
Nelson Oliveira (Por)
Andrey Amador (CRC)