Movistar’s problems

Movistar’s problems

The Movistar team on a rest day of the last tour.The Movistar team on a rest day from the past tour MICHAEL STEELE (Getty Images)

The rain and a van full of Vuelta products and the song C’Mon C’Mon by Lorena Medina, The Inner Kids and Sophie Francis greet you as you exit Utrecht Central Station. The Spanish round starts tomorrow – the first three stages take place in the Netherlands – and the teams’ cars are already crowding into the surrounding hotels. Everything is nerves, illusions, optimism. Also uncertainties and demands, like those of Movistar, the oldest and most successful team in the peloton, the reference for many times, always the rival to beat. It happens that these are no longer days of wine and roses for the Spanish team – the only one in the elite category – who are worried about the rear-view mirror as they do not have too many points and will fall into the category a cruel and possible option, forced to do a good Vuelta a España. And although management have already created a B-calendar because they understand that all races are very important until the end of the course, these three weeks are crucial for the phone team.

It turns out that the new cycling ecosystem runs counter to them, a far cry from the “philosophical history style” that José Miguel Echávarri – co-founder of the team with Eusebio Unzué in 1980 – defended in the documentary From Reynolds to Movistar. They believe that the big events are the only ones that draw the attention of those who don’t like cycling very much, and their programs and signatures try to go in that direction. Tactics that the others do not repeat as they try to earn points in tests of all kinds to stay on the World Tour. “The system would have to be changed,” says Unzué; “We have to race to put on a show, not to score points.” In any case, Movistar has gone 65 stages of the Tour without a win, Valverde was 11th at the last Giro and the Vuelta will be crucial.

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Valverde will be there looking at the classification out of the corner of his eye but also winning stages in his last Vuelta before getting off the bike and Enric Mas will pull the car which hasn’t been ratified in the year it should be but was blocked in relegation, three falls in the season, still far from being the leader demanded of him, Unzué accepted. But Movistar needs them, a team that can boast of being in the peloton for 43 years and adding 1,026 stage victories (126 in the Grand Tour) sealed with eight Tour, five Giros, four Vueltas, four World Championships… It has also won the award for first place in the world team rankings six times: 1992; 2008 and from 2013 to 2016. But that’s still a long way to go as it has 4,140 points – ranked 17th – compared to 3,984 for Israel Premier-Tech, one place down and on the verge of relegation. A stick for your story.

It was on January 17, 1980 at the Hotel Ciudad de Pamplona that color and form were given to the project promoted by Echávarri and Unzué. So he was born Reynolds and they promoted Perico Delgado, who was in the ranks of the youth team – they were there before – and they convinced Julián Gorospe, José Luis Laguía (he won the Vuelta al País Vasco as the team’s first major laurel) and Ángel Arroyo, who won the Vuelta in 1982 but had his prize withdrawn a week later for testing positive for methylphenidate and facetoperan, substances banned by the UCI, which at the time included Gushing products. Because those were different times when bikes were made of aluminum and were very heavy, the front derailleur didn’t fit on the handlebars and ear cups didn’t exist either.

Disgust did not diminish Reynolds’ competitiveness, who over the years has had sponsors (Banesto, Illes Balears, Caisse d’Epargne and Telefónica today) and leaders (Arroyo, Perico Delgado, Indurain, Mancebo, Pereiro, Quintana and Valverde…) changed. , but no timetable. Although he is now at a crossroads because if he loses the category he will not be guaranteed a place in the Grand Tours. But on the Movistar bus these shouts from Valverde are waiting – “What are we? Warriors!” – or the cheers of Chente García Acosta, the sports director: “Come on, we screw it up, fuck sos!”. La Vuelta and Movistar have a date with history.

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