Alejandro Valverde, Richard Carapaz and Nairo Quintana carry Movistar’s hopes at Vuelta a España 2019

The home favourites are taking a characteristically strong squad to Spain

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Movistar have confirmed the trident of talent carrying their hopes at the 2019 Vuelta a España.

World champion Alejandro Valverde has been marked out as the leader by the Spanish WorldTour team, with Giro d’Italia winner Richard Carapaz and Nairo Quintana also starring in the squad.

Movistar are fielding a characteristically strong squad for their home Grand Tour, with a powerful cast of supporting riders, including Marc Soler, Nelson Oliveira and Imanol Erviti.

>>> Vuelta a España 2019 start list: Provisional list of teams and riders 

The team were finally able to overcome their recent drought in three-week races this year, as Ecuadorian Carapaz rode to an unexpected victory in the 2019 Giro.

Carapaz, 26, had been holding well on the opening two weeks of the race, along with Spanish team-mate Mikkel Landa.

He then jumped from sixth overall to take the pink jersey on stage 14 to Courmayeur, and was unshakable in the final week, taking the race win in Verona.

Quintana has suffered another disappointing season this year, failing to challenge for victory at the Tour de France and having to settle for eighth overall.

The 29-year-old did win a consolation stage over the Galibier to Valloire on day 18, but was unable to better his best second-place finishes in France back in 2015 and 2013.

Quintana has previously won the Vuelta, beating Chris Froome (Team Ineos) in 2016, but has been far from his best in Grand Tours in recent seasons as he has targeted the Tour de France, the only three-week race missing from his palmarès.

>>> Jakob Fuglsang returns to racing at Vuelta a España as Astana take strong squad 

Valverde, another former Vuelta winner who triumphed in 2009, has also ridden a quiet season after taking the World Championships at the end of last season.

His biggest victories this year were the overall at the Route d’Occitanie and the Spanish national championships, but the 39-year-old wasn’t a major factor in the overall battle at the Tour de France, as he eventually snuck into the top-10 by stage 21.

But with Quintana set to leave Movistar for Arkéa-Samsic and Carapaz thought to be switching to Team Ineos next season, Valverde is their chosen rider for the overall on paper.

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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.