Alejandro Valverde and Ivan Sosa will lead Movistar at the upcoming Giro d’Italia, the veteran Spaniard combining with the in-form Colombian.
Valverde, 42, is in the final season of his racing career and is set to make only his second appearance at the Giro, his only previous visit being in 2016 when he placed third overall.
The scope of the Spaniard’s ambitions have yet to be clearly defined. With the Vuelta a España to come later in the year, it has been suggested he will focus on stage wins in Italy, but a tilt at the general classification cannot be fully ruled out. Valverde, after all, has three wins and a string of high placings to his name this season.
In their roster announcement, Movistar made no mention of roles, ambitions, or hierarchy, beyond anointing Valverde and Sosa as their two ‘spearheads’.
Sosa could well be the one who picks up the GC responsibilities, with the relative scarcity of time trialling suiting the Colombian climber. Having signed from Ineos Grenadiers in the off-season, the 24-year-old will enjoy leadership freedoms in his first Grand Tour for the Spanish squad.
His stage win and overall victory at last week’s Vuelta Asturias was a timely showcasing of his pre-Giro form which has put him into the conversation in a Giro which is wide open without an overwhelming favourite.
Valverde and Sosa will be joined in the Movistar line-up by six domestiques at their disposal. The key cog is Antonio Pedrero, who has finished in the top 22 in the past two editions of the Giro and who placed fifth with Sosa in Asturias last week.
José Joaquín Rojas provides the experience in his 20th Grand Tour, while Jorge Arcas, Sergio Samitier, and Oier Lazkano all add to the engine room. The eight-man squad is rounded out by 26-year-old US rider Will Barta, the only non-native Spanish speaker in the line-up.
The 2022 Giro d’Italia gets underway in Budapest, Hungary, on Saturday and will conclude in Verona on May 29. There are time trials of 9.2km on stage 2 and 17km on the final day but otherwise the route is dominated by climbing, with the typically heavy helping of mountains in the final week set to be decisive in the final destination of the pink jersey.