Former Vuelta a España winner Juanjo Cobo and Beñat Intxausti will lead Movistar for the upcoming Giro d’Italia.
With Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana cooling their jets for the Tour de France, the Spanish outfit will bring a competitive squad hunting stage wins and a chance for the top-10 overall.
The inconsistent Cobo was largely a bust last year following his surprising 2011 Vuelta win, while Intxausti was floating in the top-6 last year until blowing in the Giro’s final week.
“For the overall, I rely on Intxausti and Cobo fighting with the top guns and maybe making it into the top ten,” said team boss Eusebio Unzué in a team release Monday. “It might be just about time for Beñat. I think he’s ready, he’s got the experience and maturity he needs. Last year, he already proved he’s able to get there. Cobo’s performance is always an unknown, but it’s important to know that he’s in good condition, so you can expect he might be able to give his best level, like in previous times.”
The team will be looking to pad its haul of Giro stage victories, which includes two stages per Giro over the past two editions.
Fran Ventoso, who has won a stage in each of the past two Giro, will be the team’s sprinter, while the likes of Eros Capecchi and Giovanni Visconti will be looking to win a stage in breakaways on home roads.
Unzué, who won two Giro crowns in the Banesto years with Miguel Indurain in 1992 and 1993, said Bradley Wiggins (Sky) is the favorite for the overall victory.
“My race favorite? Of course Wiggins. Also [Vincenzo] Nibali, with his good form and his knowledge of the race. But I saw [Ryder] Hesjedal building up and getting stronger in the last few days, and I consider him as much favorite as the other two,” Unzué said. “The race route is not really different from last years’. The first half of the race is crucial on a mental side – you must not lose time on those mid-mountain stages. The second one has plenty of big climbs: Galibier, Lavaredo, Stelvio and the mountain TT might be crucial for the overall.”
Movistar for the Giro d’Italia (May 4-26)
Juanjo Cobo (ESP)
Beñat Intxausti (ESP)
Eros Capecchi (ITA)
Alex Dowsett (GBR)
Pablo Lastras (ESP)
Vladimir Karpets (RUS)
Fran Ventoso (ESP)
Giovanni Visconti (ITA)
José Herrada (ESP)